Last year, Houlihan's pleasantly surprised me with one dish after another of appealing made-from-scratch fare. Based on a recent return visit, though, I'd have to say the romance is over.
I hit the East Farmingdale restaurant during the “nooner” lunch period — from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — during which time any order (for parties of 6 or fewer) is guaranteed to arrive within 15 minutes — or it's free. Our meal came after about 14 minutes 59 seconds.
A lunch special ($9.98) of fish taco on a flour (not the traditional soft corn) tortilla had been made with tilapia, the fish itself hardly discernible beneath a heavy cloak of deep-fried panko bread crumbs. Sharing tortilla space: napa cabbage, pico de gallo made with pale chopped tomato, chipotle mayo, sour cream and honey-cumin dressing, everything sort of glopped together. Accompanying sweet potato fries were lukewarm; a crock of cheese-capped French onion soup amounted to liquid salt.
Salt, again, predominated in a pal’s French dip sandwich, thinly sliced roast beef blanketed in provolone cheese on a toasted torpedo roll with dipping "jus" on the side.
Better – although unbelievably messy — was another friend’s “veggie” club: rosemary and bean hummus, field greens, goat cheese, provolone cheese, balsamic tomato relish, basil and red onions on toasted whole-grain bread.
Houlihan’s in East Farmingdale is at 923 Broadhollow Rd., 631-249-4828. There are also branches in Westbury (725 Merrick Ave., 516-222-8010) and Lake Grove (4000 Middle Country Rd., 631-588-0500).
Above: Fish taco and sweet potato fries at Houlihan's, East Farmingdale