Marinated skirt steak, sliced to order and garnished with a roasted bulb of garlic, at Hendrick's Tavern. Photo Credit: Johnny Simon
Hendrick Onderdonk hosted George Washington here in 1790. George and Gillis Poll are ready for everybody right now.
The Poll brothers have transformed what was the creaking George Washington Manor into the Gold Coast's newest playground, a savvy New American showcase to satisfy the highest-decibel diners.
You could cast a reality TV show waiting in line at the parking lot, where big-grill marques of Stuttgart compete with low-slung vroom-vrooms of Maranello. Hendrick's Tavern already has become the unofficial canteen of the recession-proof.
But, more important, the sprawling, handsome establishment is an excellent restaurant.
Vivid black-and-white photos of celebrities and scenes compete with serene portraits of the first president. Bars are elbow-to-elbow; to-be-seen tables, tightly packed. A second room, a bit cozier, with wicker-style chairs and less chatter, avoids any Siberian chill. Hendrick's Tavern accommodates all comers.
The Polls also own Bryant & Cooper, the prime steakhouse nearby; Toku, a stellar Asian; and Cipollini, a stylized Italian, both at the Americana shopping center in Manhasset; plus Bar Frites in Greenvale and Majors in East Meadow and Woodbury. Their latest has the broadest appeal.
And chef Joseph Maulo, who earned high ratings for his food at the departed Osteria Toscana in Huntington and at il Toscano in Douglaston, is even better here.
Try deviled eggs, hinting of mustard, finished with snippets of chive; crisp zucchini and eggplant chips with almond-garlic dip; or the ridiculously good Kobe beef hot dog, a pastry-clad wiener Wellington, with mustard, 'kraut and ketchup, while deciding the rest.
The openers range from ahi tuna pizza with wasabi cream to sheep's milk ricotta with toasted bread; artisanal cheeses to the indulgence of roasted marrow bones, cut lengthwise, served with shallot marmalade, calling for parsley salad.
Sirloin steak: outstanding, as you'd expect; the Wagyu rib eye, its Carrara-marbled competition. The more modest "tavern burger" is first-class too. Seared sea scallops arrive buttery and sweet, with fennel puree and a shaved fennel salad; Chatham cod, snowy and light, with braised artichokes and truffle butter.
Hendrick's Tavern's "Linguini Zsa Zsa" is an interpretation of pasta carbonara, with pancetta and a fried egg. Photo Credit: Johnny Simon
Just in case, Maulo sends out superior spaghetti and meatballs and chicken alla Parmigiana. And, titled "fresh linguine Zsa Zsa," a bombshell pasta with sage, pancetta and a fried egg naturally calls attention to itself.
Have the crab cocktail instead of the slightly singed crabcake; almost-crisp black bass rather than overorchestrated Scottish salmon. The best sides are the house-made version of Tater Tots, almost candy-like Brussels-sprouts leaves, and classic creamed spinach.
Conclude with either the cheesecake or a "stickie" bun. Hendrick's Tavern also offers a roasted brioche bun with macerated berries.
Washington would've liked it.