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Two Steak & Sushi Den

A yakatori chef seasons the meat as it

A yakatori chef seasons the meat as it grills at Two Steak & Sushi Den in New Hyde Park. (March 12, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by Timothy Fadek

Updated 6/1/10

At dinner last Friday at Two Steak & Sushi Den in New Hyde Park, every one of the restaurant’s 200 seats appeared to be occupied. This did not hamper executive chef James McDevitt one bit: Everything that came out of his kitchen was flawless: pea ravioli, grilled asparagus, pan-roasted halibut, diver scallops, crispy black bass, lobster three ways. My pan-roasted baby chicken (from Bobo Farms in Shelbyville, Tenn.) was lush and meaty, with a crisp, burnished skin gilded with morels, nice fat asparagus and shards of prosciutto. I cannot remember ever having a better bird.

Service was good, but not nearly at the level of the cooking. Our waiter performed his lines admirably, but was less than vigilant when it came to clearing plates, refilling wine and water glasses.

I was surprised by a few apparent changes in the beverage service. When the restaurant opened it was offering house-filtered water (still and sparkling) for a small fee that would then be donated to charities that changed on a quarterly basis. On Friday we received tap water, no questions asked. Two also opened with an ambitious loose-tea program, but when I ordered green tea after our meal, I received a mug with a tea bag. The pretty little iron pots that had been used for tea were apparently now being deployed for sauce—as in the cauliflower puree for the halibut.

(Update: I later learned, from one of Two's owners, that our waiter had gone rogue. Two is still making its own filtered water, charging $2 a bottle, and this quarter the proceeds benefit St. Mary's Hospital for Children in Bayside, Queens. And our waiter must have filched a tea bag from the stash at the bar used to make  the "Long Island Two Tea" cocktail; the loose-tea program is ongoing.)

Perhaps I overthink these things, but I live in fear that McDevitt’s artistry won’t be adequately appreciated by a local audience, that Long Islanders won’t be willing to pay what are actually pretty reasonable prices for this level of food. However based on Friday night’s experience, my fears seem groundless.

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James McDevitt hits you squarely with a Two by Four.

His long-awaited Two Steak & Sushi Den rises on Union Turnpike with even more impact than Four Food Studio & Cocktail Salon did on Route 110 - supersleek, ultraslick, unlike anything near. It's new-wave surf and turf.

Two's dining areas each deliver a different mood, bound by their extravagance. Eat at the lustrous sushi bar, or in a more private booth opposite it; join diners in bright, open spaces that mimic futuristic cafes and lounges; or settle into the lower-decibel, handsome backroom with its Le Corbusier-look chairs and cushy modernism.

On these stages, McDevitt creates an ambitious combo of yakitori; uncooked fare from sushi chef Sunny Cheng; designer steaks; a drift net of seafood; vibrant desserts.


THE BEST

Asparagus soup, floating a soft-poached egg and morels: spring awakening. Gyoza, or seared pork dumplings, with curried mustard sauce; and lightly fried oysters with braised pork belly and pickled jalapeños transform the familiar. Buttery, English-pea ravioli play off spring onion, mint and wild mushrooms. Pork belly and green onion define the top skewered-and-grilled yakitori; slivers of blood orange and cherry vinaigrette elevate sashimi of kampachi; cherry tomato complements seared salmon belly; otoro sparks a "crazy tuna" roll. A grass-fed New York strip from Painted Hills; dry-aged strip from Meyer Ranch; and American bison rib-eye from Durham Ranch star among steaks. Black bass accented with Iberico ham heads the fish. Great side dishes: fingerling potato puree, truffle-Parmesan cheese fries, creamy polenta, crisp and sweet Brussels sprouts. Green-tea doughnuts, chocolate cake, cheesecake and the house-made Oreo and pistachio macaroon petit fours aren't what you'd expect. They're better.


THE REST

Chorizo crust overwhelms diver scallops; some yakitori are overdone; liquid-nitrogen-induced ice cream will make you smile or wince - ingenuity and chemistry or the heir to table-side Caesar salad.


BOTTOM LINE

Chef's reverie.

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