Revel

Revel
(516) 246-9111, Garden City

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The new Revel in the center of Garden City is a sophisticated suburban restaurant with a Manhattan beat. It has a mostly New American menu with many international touches. Revel’s market-inspired philosophy is reflected in a trendy, seasonally changing menu that evinces careful sourcing. Naturally fed Black Angus beef comes from family-owned, environmentally-friendly ranches in Colorado. The produce originates on Long Island farms and in Sullivan County upstate. The fish are wild, not farm raised.

Revel’s executive chef David Martinez comes to Garden City after stops at Aureole and Bouley in the city as well as a destination restaurant in his native Spain.

Physically Revel is an upscale spot with mosaic-tiled floors, a high industrial ceiling, flickering candles, windowed kitchen and a long, striking bar.

Dinners begin splendidly with an admirably diverse basket of rolls and continue that way with but a few exceptions. Most of those exceptions don’t involve food—the prices of specials aren’t given, even the more sedate dining room is too noisy, the subdued lighting makes it difficult to read the menu and some items that are no longer being served are still on the evening’s menu.

Aside from a slightly overcooked, dryish roasted chicken breast ($21) and a tender, though not savory, well-seasoned char-grilled octopus starter ($15), every dish was excellent and many options are on the healthier side. The velvety Long Island sweet corn soup, the least expensive appetizer at $9, was also among the best. It sports a swirl of tomato and corn relish at its center and is liberally studded with kernels of corn. The Artic char tartare, presented with a shaved fennel and celery salad enlivened by lemon verbena crema was packed with fresh, nautical flavors ($15). The most creative salad is the housemade burrata (“buttery” in Italian) and heirloom tomato. That burrata, rarely seen on Long Island, is rich, fresh mozzarella with a solid outer shell that holds cream and melted mozzarella within ($14).

The bountiful Aspen Ridge Black Angus ten ounce marinated hanger steak, served with bad-for-you, great tasting, duck fat frites cut thin, was much more tender than this cut usually is ($28). Even softer was the perfectly prepared 10-ounce filet mignon offered with a choice of four sauces. We went with the slightly sweet housemade Revel steak sauce (brown sugar based) and weren’t disappointed ($39).

Although there is great variation in the size of desserts, it’s impossible to make a bad choice. The lattice apple pie, with stracciatella gelato is enough for four and as good as you’ll find locally ($9). The circular, rich vanilla bean cheesecake with Graham cracker crust and fresh bean compote is as creamy as they come ($9) while the small, decadent, triple layer chocolate mousse offers dark, white and milk chocolate that make it a chocoholic’s dream dessert ($9). (Neither the chocolate tiramisu nor the crème brûlée listed on the five dish menu were available on my visit).

An often-raucous barroom crowd competes with the world’s largest and loudest television screen and contrasts with a glass-walled dining room that offers a somewhat more refined experience.

Photo by Paul Kim / thefphoto.com

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richard jay scholem

Richard Jay Scholem practically invented the Long Island restaurant culture through 800+ reviews of the region's eateries both on radio and in print over the last 30 years. He is a former New York Times Long Island Section restaurant reviewer, has contributed to the Great Restaurants of...magazines and Bon Vivant, authored a book, aired reviews on WGSM and WCTO radio stations, served on the board of countless community and food and beverage organizations, and received many accolades for his journalism in both print and broadcast media. He is currently available for restaurant consultation. Reach him at (631) 271-3227.