George Martin’s Strip Steak
Great River, (631) 650-6777
The George Martin Group has made a deserved name for itself since 1989 by emphasizing top-quality ingredients and polished service. But until a year or two ago all their many successes and rare failures were in Nassau County. At that time George Korten, the astute, accomplished restaurateur who owns and operates these expensive, upscale spots and the more modestly priced George Martin’s Grillfire American Grill chain, decided to cross the county line into Suffolk.
Somewhat surprisingly, he didn’t choose restaurant hot spots like the East End, Huntington, Babylon or Port Jefferson, but decided on Great River, hardly a top restaurant destination. Outside, Strip Steak is a country house with a rustic little porch. Inside are three small, sophisticated, clubby rooms of white-clothed tables with tiny candles at the center. Vintage photos, including an impressive collection of nudes, stained-glass panels and an up-front wall wine cabinet add to the elegant atmosphere.
Newcomers are warmly welcomed and bread and water appear almost instantly. When full, the interior noise level is tolerable though not ideal and the center-of-the-room tables for four are barely large enough to hold all of the dishes. Portions are sufficient but not bountiful. When the restaurant is crowded, the kitchen struggles and service lags despite the best efforts of an attentive, well-schooled waitstaff.
Any such limitations are forgiven and forgotten when the food arrives. The texture and density of flavor, especially of the steaks, stamp Strip Steak as an unmistakably superior establishment. Although steaks occupy only a small section of the menu, the 21-day, dry-aged, certified Black Angus red meat selections are a must. There are no better steaks on Long Island than the 20-ounce strip ($44) and 24-ounce “Cowboy Cut” rib eye ($45). They both boast appealingly charred surfaces and juicy, flavor-packed, perfectly-covered interiors. Close behind is the equally tasty prime rib ($42), although it was thinner and smaller than its “king sized” billing implied.
The jumbo Pacific shrimp skewer ($29), plump crustaceans on a bed of interesting spinach-lemon scented risotto is a safe middle-of-the-road pick for non-meat eaters. Little neck clams ($12) on a vivacious pool of luxuriant white wine sauce, alive with smoked bacon, sautéed peppers, shallots and garlic, with a whiff of cream is the hands-down outstanding starter. The “colossal” lump crab cocktail ($18) tastes fresh and fine, but is skimpy, not colossal. Jumbo crab cakes ($16/$27) with a lively red pepper remoulade are a bit better than average, and the four husky oysters Rockefeller ($14) were bland rather than rich and without their promised herb crumbs.
There are no wrong dessert choices here. The $8 crème brûlée duo (vanilla and chocolate) boasts exemplary caramelized sugar, the brownie sundae ($10) is chock full of everything from M&M’s to caramel, chocolate sauce and fresh cream. So too is the banana split ($14) with all the above plus spiced walnuts, whipped cream and a cherry. The hot apple turnover ($12) is like a super apple fritter loaded with Granny Smith apples, golden raisins, cranberries and streusel and topped with cinnamon ice cream and whipped cream.
Photos by Stephen Lang