Excellent | Worth a Detour
Review by: Michael Stern
Since it opened in 1985, Island Restaurant has become a favorite gathering spot for Carnegie Hill locals who have the couth and the cash to enjoy what the management bills as a “yacht club like experience.” The last time we ate here, it was summer and conversations at two different nearby tables revolved around goings-on in the Hamptons, where so many of the city’s moneyed folk go to play. (Seating is very snug. You will hear neighbors’ conversations.)
Typical Roadfood, it is not. Aside from fairly high prices (dinner for two easily can hit $100), the menu is only somewhat regional, the region being the entire Northeast from Nova Scotia to the Chesapeake Bay, e.g. from Prince Edward Island mussels to jumbo lump Maryland crab cakes. The most outstanding regional specialty is a summertime lobster roll. It is a piled-high mountain of big, fresh pieces, some just barely cooled down (not iced) along with crisp bits of celery in a veil of mayonnaise. The bun is only a distraction — too dense and chewy — but the lobster it holds is stupendous. And for a regionally appropriate dessert, there’s a fine Maine blueberry cobbler.
Many worthy items cooked in this kitchen transcend parochial identity — I cannot resist the pulchritudinous Kobe beef hot dog served with crisp shoestring French fries; wintertime turkey loaf is memorable; pear tarte tatin is Parisian-good.
Menu aside, having a meal at Island is in fact an absolutely regional experience, in this sense the region being New York’s Upper East Side. The clubby feel goes beyond yar woodwork, white linen tablecloths, and prices that preclude the presence of the poor unwashed. The upper middle class clientele themselves all tend to be easy on the eyes in a Ralph Lauren catalog sort of way. What I am trying to say is that dining at Island Restaurant is less an adventure than it is a comforting experience … for those who are not discomforted by the cost of a meal. Food is impeccable — top-notch ingredients, prepared with style and grace and handsomely presented. Service is leisurely, helpful, and genuinely welcoming, even to those of us not from the neighborhood.
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|