Tag Archives: island

Pollo Tropical

When I’m away from NYC, I love trying new fast food joints that I can’t find back home. In Florida, I kept seeing these Pollo Tropical joints all over the place, so I had to try it.

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The menu is pretty simple – chicken or pork, rice bowls, platters and sandwiches. My wife and I tried a bunch of stuff.

First was the guava BBQ pulled pork sandwich, which reminded me of luau pork or achiote pork. The BBQ sauce was good – sweet and tangy with a unique fruity flavor. The chicken sandwich was pretty basic – nothing special there: grilled chicken, cheese and some fixings on a potato bun. The rice bowl we tried was the same pork meat as the sandwich, but on a bed of yellow rice with black beans, onions, and corn. This was the best value, in my opinion. You got a lot of food for the money.

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Each sandwich item came with a side. We had fried yucca, and corn soufflé – both were excellent, and easily addicting snack foods.

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They even serve beer from the Bahamas. Sweet!

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But the thing that really sets Pollo Tropical apart from other joints is the sauce selection, all free to grab as much as you want, to mix and make concoctions of your own, etc. They have things like guava BBQ sauce (as well as regular BBQ sauce), curry mustard sauce (amazing – I know it sounds bad, but trust me), garlic cilantro cream sauce (awesome for the beef selections, if available in that particular restaurant – and it has a hint of lime), pineapple rum (thing “tropical duck sauce”), spicy poyo poyo sauce (great kick from habanero peppers), Pollo Tropical hot sauce, and fresh salsa. You really can’t go wrong with any of them.

In short, I dig this place. If there was one in NYC, I’d be hitting it pretty often.

Island Burger

I found this place as I was strolling around the new neighborhood. Since finding it, I’ve been here twice. The first time was for happy hour, where my wife and I had some great sliders, some roasted corn, and beer.

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As you can see, we tried a nice variety of sliders. if I recall, habanero cheddar was my favorite. I was impressed enough to go back a second time with my cousin, this time for a proper burger. I had the “Miss Hula Burger,” with ham, swiss, honey mustard and pineapple.

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While it was delicious, I realize that there is a revolting string of fat hanging down the front of the burger. I wanted to show this in all it’s glory, warts and all. And I apologize if you just threw up a little bit in your mouth. But you can trust me that the food here is good.

UPDATE 7/13/17

I came back in for lunch on a weekday and discovered a really great special that they run during those hours: $10 for a burger and a beer! Excellent.

ISLAND BURGER
766 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Blackstone

Blackstone overall score: 83

A few months back I received a gift card to use at a group of restaurants on long Island. Blackstone, Insignia, and Rare 650. Rare 650 was a bit too far from my home, and I had already been to Blackstone once before (pre-reviewing days), so we wanted to try Insigna. The menu there looked like it had a better selection anyway. At 4pm we called to try to make a reservation, but the other end of the line was so noisy with blasting music that my wife couldn’t hear anything on the phone. The woman hung up on her. My wife called back, and the cunty woman said they didn’t have any openings until 9:30pm, the music was still blasting, and then she hung up on my wife. Very unprofessional. So we gave up on the idea of Club Insignia, with all night long house music on the 1s and 2s, and went back to Blackstone. A note about my first trip to Blackstone a few years back; I had a great meal, but two of us got VERY sick (pissing-out-of-our-asses-all-night-long kind of sick). After some careful research into who ate what, we could only surmise that the two items me and the other person had that might have made us sick was a pint of Guinness. Sometimes the tap can get a funk if it isn’t poured often. A few of us all had ribeyes and shared the same apps, so it couldn’t have been the food (or so we think).

Flavor: 8

My second trip here, which is what this review is based on, was a much better experience. I had the ribeye, as usual. It was cooked nicely, evenly, and it had a good crust locking in the juices. It was rested well too. It just lacked a little bit of seasoning punch, and there was some inedible fat in parts (on some ribeyes, you can eat every bite – even the fat). Overall a very good steak. Everything here had good flavor as a matter of fact. Nothing was a let down, but, then again, nothing was amazing (except maybe the broccolini). On a third trip (for lunch) I had a 14oz filet, and my wife had a mixed greens salad with string beans and mandarin oranges, with lobster tail on top of a crabmeat guacamole – that was friggin delicious (the guac). My filet was nice and crispy/charred on the outside, and perfectly medium rare on the inside. The edges did get a little dry, however, since it was such a thick cut of meat. I found that dipping into the steak sauce on occasion was a good way to keep the moisture level high.

STEAK

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

There’s a great selection here, and it is all top notch. They have all four of the basics (though they call the strip a sirloin, which makes me wonder) plus a great deal of stuff on special. When we went, there were two additional cuts on special; a 16oz boneless Oregon “wagyu,” and a 24oz bone-in sirloin. There’s a good selection of non-beef too.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The sizes are good here. The ribeye was 28oz on the bone. Plating was basic and clean, nothing too fancy. Here is a pic of the salad we got on the third visit (mixed greens, string beans, tomato, mandarin orange – with crabmeat guacamole on the side, topped with lobster tail meat):

SALAD

Price: 7

Check out the bill below; our gift card knocked off $150, but we still dropped about $140 on top of that. This place is a bit pricey for Long Island. Though the quality is good, I found that other places on Long Island are a better bargain (better prices for as good, if not better, food). My steak was $52; too much for Long Island. Other high priced items were the shellfish plateau ($59), crab claws ($55/pound), and some of the special sushi rolls ($35-$45 for a roll – to Blackstone’s defense, many of those sushi rolls have “kobe” beef, lobster, and other pricey ingredients). On a third trip for lunch I had a $25 gift card that Blackstone gave out for free on the web. Great deal – it saved me the tip (see second receipt below – before the $25 was removed).

BILL

Bar: 9

The bar here is awesome. It’s big, spacious, well decorated, and boasts a great selection of booze and specialty cocktails. It’s definitely a place I could see people hanging at after work or before a full night out. They mix a nice martini to boot (though the olive was a bit too pickle tasting – standard jar olive).

Specials and Other Meats: 9

On special, Blackstone has at least one item for every section of their menu (and they have many sections). They offered a lobster sushi special, a few app specials (like crab claws by the pound, shellfish plateaus, and a mozzarella cheese app), two beef specials (ribeye and sirloin), a fish special (branzino), a pasta special, and a dessert special (chocolate & peanut butter Napoleon). I was impressed.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We started with the oysters, some sliced octopus and a sushi roll, and all were good. Clean, cold, and tasty. My wife ordered a shellfish plateau for her main meal, and it was great. It had a half a lobster, a half a snow crab, 5 clams, 4 oysters (2 east coast, 2 west coast), and shrimp. A bit pricey at $59, but it was good. On the side we had creamed spinach and broccolini. The creamed spinach was nicely done – not incredible but definitely not inedible. Standard. The broccolini, on the other hand, was amazing. Sauteed in oil and garlic, it had just the right amount of seasoning. I’d say that was probably the best part of the entire meal. For dessert, we tried the peanut butter and chocolate Napoleon. It was nice and light, surprisingly. It was served with a peanut powder of some kind that was really fluffy. It wasn’t just ground up peanuts. It must have been done via molecular gastronomy / food chemistry techniques or something. Delicious. I washed that down with a double shot of espresso, which was more like a quadruple shot; I couldn’t fall asleep later that night. One thing I recall from my first visit here was the “kobe” beef cooked on hot rocks – that was cool, and I remember it being really tasty, despite not being true kobe beef. On a third trip for lunch my wife and I split a trio of seafood (lump crab, half a lobster tail, and two huge shrimp ($26). For dessert we had a blondie banana creme pie that was absolutely the best thing on the menu.

Seafood Selection: 8

The seafood is great here. Aside from the incredible (though pricey) selection of sushi, they also have great traditional seafood fare that you often see on steakhouse menus. Crab claws by the pound was a nice departure from that as well. I was happily surprised to see that my plate of oysters for my app had different oysters from my wife’s plateau meal. Nice touch. Also, they had sushi specials that weren’t on the menu, and a branzino fish dish on special as well.

Service: 9

The service here was good. We had, basically, a team of two; a waiter and a waitress. They were attentive, friendly, and informative. The manager even did a swing-by to make sure we were okay. All the wait staff wore shirts and ties with jackets, and everyone else was nicely dressed and professional looking. The bread was a nice warm crisp sourdough, served with olive oil instead of butter. On the third trip the waiter forgot to bring us our broccolini side that we ordered. No harm done, since we were not charged for it. In addition the waiter misheard me when I said “no” to a second newcastle. So I imagine they had to dump that beer. Otherwsie the service was still great, as usual.

Ambiance: 9

Blackstone is no doubt Japanese themed. When you walk in, it has that sushi restaurant smell (market fresh, not Canal Street nasty). There is a sushi bar to the right, and the walls are all done with a nice natural ledge stone. There are a few nice looking fireplaces, high ceilings, and nice dark wood. To the left, there is the tremendous bar, and behind that, an outdoor lounge seating area next to a nice long modern fireplace, and more tables for outdoor dining (with retractable roof). The bathrooms were nice too. The men’s room had an attendant; stocked with mouth wash, gum, candy, and hand lotion in case your meal is so good that you need to jerk one out real quick in the stall.

BLACKSTONE
10 Pinelawn Rd.
Melville, NY 11747