36° Good Morning
36° Good Morning
The main dining room at Grill 454 in

The main dining room at Grill 454 in Commack fills on Friday and Saturday nights. (Feb. 6, 2012) Credit: Doug Young

Six weeks in, this already is becoming the year of the steakhouse. But you could say that about every year on Long Island.

Yes, there are more Italian eateries and seafood houses. Still, ask someone's dining-out preferences, vegetarians apart, and porterhouse precincts will just as likely be the choice.

Grill 454 combines all three.

The sprawling newcomer, in the Commack shopping-center site that used to house Charlie Brown's, is affiliated with AJ Maxwell's. That clubby surf-and-turfer took over the address near Rockefeller Center occupied in the last century by The Forum of the Twelve Caesars.

Grill 454 is more modest than its midtown relative, in appearance, price and ambition. It's a straightforward spot, neither devoted to a theme nor advertising a lifestyle. You're here for a drink and a meal with TVs tuned to the day's games. And, before or after, maybe a quick stop at King Kullen, Target or Sports Authority.

Shellfish cocktails, of course, are sensible starters. The lump crabmeat is especially good. The seafood bouquet adds lobster and shrimp, all fine. Maryland crabcakes, however, could use a bit more crab.

The Ethel salad, generous with shrimp and string beans, also is a satisfying opener. But sesame-seared pork dumplings with sweet soy sauce are on the bland side. And the French onion soup comes across more salty than deeply flavorful.

Eggplant Parmigiana is among the appetizers, and it's a hefty, well-made version. You also could go full Parmigiana here with a main course of moist chicken under the heavy-duty mantle of tomato sauce and cheese, alongside a portion of spaghettini marinara.

Grill 454 prepares an excellent filet mignon, big and tender. The bone-in sirloin and the hanger steak are its rivals. But the porterhouse for two or more can be chewier than the others. Also: be very specific about how you want any of them prepared. Err toward rare.

Surfside, a 2-pound steamed lobster arrives sweet and buttery. A special of seared halibut deserves to be a regular alongside red snapper oreganata and baked swordfish.

As you'd expect, there are plenty of a la carte side dishes. The better ones are mashed potatoes, hash browns and sauteed spinach. Frizzled onions are more frazzled from the oil. Creamed spinach needs more seasoning; macaroni and cheese, less weight.

Cheesecake is the obvious dessert, ahead of thin Key lime pie and a very restrained, ultrasoft brownie a la mode. So far, this isn't the year of chocolate.


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