He may have had breakfast here in 1790, but the Father of our country would hardly recognize George Washington Manor in its new incarnation, which opened Tuesday night.
George and Gillis Poll have transformed the Roslyn landmark across from the clock tower into Hendrick's Tavern, a sprawling complex that combines a swanky New American restaurant with an elegant catering facility.
The Poll brothers (who also own Bryant & Cooper in Roslyn, Toku and Cipollini in Manhasset, Bar Frites in Greenvale and Majors Steak House in Woodbury and East Meadow) bought the property in 2008, renamed it GW and slowly began the business of upgrading and updating. Parties are already booked for the luxurious event spaces.
With its timbered ceilings and rich leather accents, the restaurant looks like a country inn that’s been there forever -- ironic since it looks nothing like the establishment that was there forever. This is one of Long Island’s most appealing dining rooms. Actually, there are multiple dining rooms, two bars and a lounge. On opening night, the floor was abuzz with white-coated waiters and white-aproned busboys.
The menu looks to be a real crowd pleaser. Prime steaks are smack in the middle, surrounded by a chorus of hot trends: raw bar, small plates, artisan pizzas. The Polls know their audience and they would be remiss if they didn’t offer up a handful of pastas, though the presence of chicken Parmesan was a bit of a head-scratcher (ditto the robata beef and onion-and-bone-marrow soup). For three courses, figure on at least $50, exclusive of drinks.
We liked almost everything we tried: mustardy deviled eggs showered with surgically snipped chives, wedges of iceberg and butter lettuce buried under blue-cheese dressing and crisp lardons, a fine little butterflied Cornish hen, a flavorful lamb burger.
Brussels sprouts leaves were fried and salted such that they ceased being vegetables and attained snack-food status. A side of lobster fried rice was the only misstep: it seemed to have been made with arborio or another short grain, as opposed to the long-grain rice used by every Chinese restaurant on Earth. For dessert, a stack of crepes layered with pastry cream was restrained and delicious.
The event spaces at Hendrick’s Tavern range from the intimate to the grand, some or all of which can be combined to handle parties of any size. The decor manages to honor the facility’s colonial history without looking at all hokey.
Hendrick’s Tavern is at 1305 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn, 516-621-1200.