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Still Partners review

A pretzel is served with two kinds of

A pretzel is served with two kinds of mustard at Still Partners in Sea Cliff, Feb. 21, 2015. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

It's 7 p.m. on a Thursday night and the noise level at Still Partners approaches earsplitting. There's not an empty booth in the house and the bar is packed two deep. Yet, with all this, it's a simple Cheddar-topped burger that commands attention.

The mineral-rich, beefy flavor unleashed by the first bite surprises. Who would expect such depth from a sirloin patty served on a toasted English muffin alongside mundane previously frozen fries? But it's cooked rare, as ordered, and well seasoned -- surely no ordinary burger.

Nor is this an ordinary eatery. For more than 30 years, the site housed a local dive bar called Partners. New owners Dan Roth and Ray Capone turned it into a music venue and, recently, a restaurant with an interesting list of craft beers, as well.

For starters, a Belgian white ale goes well with a warm pretzel served with two kinds of mustard. Salt-roasted Marcona almonds may need warming, but, nonetheless, the salty nuts are addictive. So, too, chef Jesus Torres' bubbling casserole of mac and cheese, simple and ideal for everyone at the table to share. Shareable, as well, is a cracker-thin-crusted Margherita pizza on a premade shell whose bright tomato topping is just this side of acidic. Another night, a mashed-potato-topped shepherd's pie (listed as an appetizer but suitable for a main course) turns out mellow and satisfying.

Comfort foods are big here. There's homey chicken potpie topped with puff pastry. One can't help imagining that the creamy mix of white meat chicken and vegetables might be even better with the inclusion of some dark meat. Southern fried chicken -- half a very small bird -- has a nice crunch. In a more Southern Italian vein is an adeptly pan-seared piece of salmon plated with Japanese eggplant caponata, white beans and escarole. An Italian influence also informs potato gnocchi topped with the restaurant's assertive San Marzano tomato sauce, along with ricotta and basil pesto. Crunchy-crusted, snowy beer-battered Atlantic cod is the star of a fish-and- chips plate, which, like the stellar burger, needs better fries.

Made in house: a s'mores brownie, toasty and good. Smart move, bringing in desserts from the well-regarded St. Rocco's Bakery in Glen Cove. Which means that if you're not staying for the music, a creamy chocolate mousse cake will see you out on the right note -- even if your ears are still ringing.

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