The Phoenix

3915 Merrick Rd. Seaford, NY 516-809-9693

Alexandra Smoczkiewicz and Jordan Rouff linger over dinner

(Credit: Steven Sunshine)

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Critic rating: 3

User rating:
3
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Type: Pub, American, Small plates, Tapas (small plates), Gastro-pub Special features: Bar scene Price range: $$ (Moderate) Description:

With generous space for both dining and bar nights, this Seaford restaurant and lounge features a long menu of contemporary American bites that is short on price. Surrounded by sparse décor enhanced by Spanish reds, white and black colors, small plates abound -- with cured meats, cheeses, sandwiches, salads and even thin-crust pizzas – a bite roasted in a brick-oven set right behind the bar. There are also many small entrées, all of which fall under either “Earth,” “Land” or “Sea,” with “Sweet” covering the desserts. Items like chicken-fried pork belly with Tabasco gravy, oven-charred octopus and bread pudding are only a small tease to what the creative menu offers – a menu which is served often as late as 1 a.m.

Hours: Daily: Noon-2 a.m. Ambience: Good Service: Very Good Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Restrooms not wheelchair accessible.
THE PHOENIX, Seaford Spicy peanut soup, made with

THE PHOENIX, Seaford

Spicy peanut soup, made with jalapeno grape salsa and garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and crispy sweet potato.

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(Credit: Steven Sunshine)

3

The Phoenix is rising. In a red and black space that evokes a retro rock club, the high caliber of cuisine may come as something of a surprise. Credit chef Ryan Augusta, who cooks with both skill and confidence.

Here, a spoonful of spicy peanut soup topped with grapes, pumpkin seeds and fried sweet potato curls unleashes a rapid-fire explosion of flavor. Chicken noodle soup may not be what Grandma would make, but I'd imagine it's what she would fancy: a ginger and lemon-infused broth rife with shredded poultry and fresh lo mein noodles. Then, there's a terrific crispy-thin flatbread pizza topped with BBQ duck confit, cucumbers and scallions. I can't fit my mouth around the hearty roast pork sandwich, so I use a knife and fork.

At night, when the bar is jumping and Otis Redding plays on the sound system, a menu of New American tapas predominates. One small plate holds coffee-rubbed pork medallions, fork-tender, beautifully nuanced. Another features fat "angry" shrimp, incensed by their hot bacon Creole mustard sauce, the heat cut by cool pickled cucumbers sharing the plate. Delectable seared scallops come with rice cakes and a roasted tomato cream sauce. How rich and tender the oven-charred octopus comes out, plated with Yukon Gold potatoes. By adding bacon, Augusta brings a smoky note to Brussels sprouts in a rice wine-honey vinaigrette. A mini Mason jar holds pickled beets; they're very good, even if they are a bit overchilled. Braised meatballs in chipotle BBQ sauce, however, are overcooked, grainy. But the creamy grits underneath are devoured in mere moments.

Since the "core" lunch menu also is available at dinner, I order another flatbread pizza, this one opulently capped with Yukon Gold potatoes, mushrooms, caramelized leeks, Casa Bolo cheese and truffle oil.

Desserts fly just as high. Vanilla custard with coffee syrup is sprinkled with a toffee-chocolate crunch that introduces an ingenious salty note. A cobbler of rhubarb, sweet potato cubes and berries is warm and appealing.

So, too, this singular new restaurant.

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The Phoenix 3915 Merrick Rd., Seaford

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