Medford’s newest eatery, Long Island Ale House, is more than it’s name suggests. Sure, they have over 30 beers on tap featuring many local brews, and they’re sold at an attractive price of just $4 or $5 a pint (plus $1 off that during Happy Hour). And yes, you could come here just to belly up to their long bar and shoot some pool while mingling with old friends or chatting up new ones. But take care not to miss out on what we think is the other star of the show at this place: wonderful, innovative, locally-sourced food that goes well beyond the standard pub grub you might expect.
Darlin’ Dale & I visited the Long Island Ale House on a recent Friday for lunch and were impressed by the large, airy room with plenty of banquette seating. Our meal began with the Bacon & Cheese Fries – a delicious “mess” of fries held together by oozing Monterey and cheddar cheese, smoked crispy bacon and minced tomatoes & scallions. Drizzled on the plate just begging to have a fry dipped into it was the ranch dressing. If you’re enjoying a pint or two here, you’re going to want to eat this – trust us.
Our next appetizer was the Ale House Rolls. I haven’t run across these tasty treats anywhere else, although we were told they are a popular Turkish dish. Imagine taking raw pita bread dough and stretching it out til it’s very thin, then putting Pastrami & Cheese, or Broccoli & Feta on one side of the dough then rolling, rolling, rolling it up, frying it and serving it alongside a home made mustard. The outside was light and crispy while the insides really popped with flavor when you took a bite. And when was the last time you got excited about mustard? Chef Daniel Garbarino makes his own grainy mustard with wine and lets it mellow for a day or two before serving – this will spoil you & have you sneering at the jars on the shelf the next time you go to the supermarket.
My Long Island Ale House Burger was a juicy beef patty cooked to order and then topped with American cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, shoestring onion rings, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion and a savory mayo. All of that was nestled into a soft Portugese bun direct from Arthur Avenue itself, then topped with a toothpick holding 3 olives. It was straight out of a Dagwood cartoon! But tasted much, much better than paper and ink, of course. This was served with a side of cole slaw, a pickle, and wonderful, crispy french fries seasoned in garlic, sea salt and a hint of rosemary.
That soft bun and the fries made another appearance with my friend’s order of the Blackened Chicken Sandwich. We admit to ordering this for a test. Let’s face it, most restaurants don’t know how to make a good grilled chicken sandwich, usually giving you something bland and overcooked. Not here – LI Ale House passed the Chicken Sandwich Test with flying colors! The spice blend covering the breast woke up our taste buds immediately (but not “hot” spicy) and the meat was extremely moist. The interior of the bun had some homemade ancho chili mayo slathered onto it and it was so good there was no need to add the accompanying tomato or onion. The pillowy bun, tender chicken and mayo alone produced wonderful bites.
You might think that after all this food we’d skip dessert. Pshaw! Long Island Ale House makes their desserts in house and in smaller, “tasting” sizes, which is great is you’re like us and simply can’t make up your mind. Is chocolate your poison? Indulge your craving with an intense, decadent chocolate mousse topped with shaved white chocolate curls and spun sugar.
How about a creme brulee featuring a rich custardy middle with a hint of mocha, capped by a torched, crispy sugar top? Or a warm candied pear cobbler with rum sauce and pecan ice cream? All of them were delicious and not overwhelming in size. Dessert offerings change on a weekly basis (and we can’t wait to go back during the holidays for some eggnog creme brulee).
Bottom Line: Go! This is elevated, well-executed “pub” food. Given the comfortable, laid-back atmosphere I was honestly surprised to find such high caliber food here. However it all makes perfect sense once you know that Chef Daniel includes several high-end Manhattan restaurants on his resume (such as Tribeca Grill) and is a big believer in locally sourced, fresh products. Other things I’d like to try on the menu: South of the Border Taco Sampler (Chef learned how to make these in Mexico City, so we’re thinking they’re the real deal); Bistro Burger with asiago, spinach and pancetta; Wings in buffalo, teriyaki or nuclear style; and any one of their daily, creative specials. Plus a pint or two of those local brews wouldn’t hurt…
Details: Long Island Ale House / 2016 Route 112 / Medford, NY 11763 / 631-569-5515