Lauren Brookmeyer had just finished her workday and Alex Dollin would begin his overnight shift in a few hours.
But in the meantime, the two college friends shared a meal at Venere in Westbury on Tuesday night for just a handful of hours they’d get to spend together that week — eating good food, catching up on each other’s lives and breaking up the workweek.
They were both admittedly hungry and agreed the appetizer took too long to come to their table, but when it did, neither of them touched it.
“That’s the first rule,” explained Dollin, 25, of Huntington. “You can’t touch the food before we take a picture of it.”
That picture, along with many others, and their well-thought out review of the restaurant, would appear a few days later on the pair’s blog, “Alex and Lauren Eat Long Island,” which has steadily gained a following since they launched it last year.
Dollin and Brookmeyer, 25, of East Meadow, commit one night a week to dining at a different restaurant on Long Island and reviewing it on their blog. They’ve been everywhere from Garden City to Mattituck and reviewed the full gamut of what the Island has to offer from burger joints to upscale dining.
“We try to judge places by what they are trying to be,” said Brookmeyer, so the burgers at Jake’s Wayback Burger, in East Meadow, aren’t up against the filet mignon at Blackwell’s, a steakhouse in Wading River. Their ratings range from 1 to 5 dinner mints, the latter meaning exceptional.
At dinner on Tuesday, they played by the rules. They photographed each dish before touching it, and talked casually about the presentation, the restaurant decor, the service and their meals as Dollin took notes.
Brookmeyer commented that the bread basket could have been a little more substantial, Dollin pointed out that it included garlic knots.
“He’s always a little more positive and I’m always a little more .?.?.” Brookmeyer began, defining their reviewing tendencies and sharing a laugh with her partner.
They’re not trained or experienced food critics. Dollin is a producer at News 12 Long Island and Brookmeyer works in governmental relations for Long Island Power Authority, but after losing touch after college and reconnecting over “a huge Italian meal” one day last spring, they made the commitment to simply dine together and share their experience.
“People get busy,” Brookmeyer said. “But you have to make a commitment to the things you love to do and the people you care about.”