(516) 487-1070, Great Neck
I didn’t hear a single note from Richard Desmond, the so-called Singing Chef when I visited Om Bistro in Great Neck, so I can’t attest to his vocal ability. But he sure as hell can cook. With few exceptions every dish that emerged from his kitchen was impressive. Mr. Desmond, who we are told sings in the kitchen and at times entertains patrons in the main dining room with an aria or two came from Bliss in East Setauket to Om (which opened in February where Tulip had been). Prior to that he cooked and crooned at Public House 49 in Patchogue, Village Bistro in East Setauket and Dandylion’s in Westbury.
Om’s good-sized dining room is a subdued, rather bland room that is conducive to civilized conversation (unusual for Long Island restaurants) because of its carpeting, tablecloths and recorded music that plays at a moderate volume. While the room is characterless, the restaurant’s new American menu, with some Italian and Mediterranean touches, is diverse and sophisticated. Not a single entrée reaches the $20 mark. Diners get off to a very promising start with a basket of noteworthy, warm, onion-studded focaccia with hummus and cucumber dips, accompanied by an amuse (a tiny spring roll filled with filet mignon on the night we visited).
The winning streak continued with appetizers like a stylish, light trio of tart, terrine and ginger-glazed carrots ($12); two hefty smoked trout cakes with a rugged crust, enhanced by their tangy horseradish remoulade and tomato marmalade ($13); and a couple of rich slabs of pan-seared foie gras paired with a ripe cinnamon Riesling-poached pear ($18). The gently-priced soup of the day was a tasty, delicate, slightly non-traditional, off-white New England clam chowder harboring few if any clams ($5). Only the lamb dumplings disappointed. The menu failed to indicate they were fried, not the layered, smooth-skin Asian dumpling anticipated and their filling had an anonymous, could’ve-been-anything character ($10).
A main course of roasted cod was soft, feathery and fresh, as were its vibrant eggplant, carrot, zucchini and winter veggie cannelloni plate mates ($19). Beef brisket slow roasted in red wine and herbs boasted a big blunt flavor and arrived with carrots and two crisp potato cakes rather than the one on the menu ($18). A generous scattering of medium-sized grilled shrimp in a white wine reduction on a bed of polenta offered a handful of wild mushrooms ($19).
Desserts sampled included: An airy, delicious apple tart; an above-average crème brûlée; a red velvet cake with lots of cream cheese frosting and just a little cake; and a colossal dinner plate-portion of chocolate Napoleon featuring layers of chocolate crème brûlée and rice crisps and crunchy chocolate phylo flanked by a puff of whipped cream (all $10).
Photos by Stephen Lang