Review:Cafe Red, Kings Park, NY

Cafe Red
107 Main Street
Kings Park, NY
(631) 544-4500

Cafe Red is part of a chain of restaurants – Sap Suckers in Huntington Village, Osteria da Nino in Huntington Village, Red in Huntington Village, and Cafe Red in Kings Park. I guess they figured that the overpriced food market was soaked in Huntington Village (it is, although there are some great pubs down that way with awesome food at decent prices, as long as you don’t  have a bar bill), so they extended their reach to Kings Park. That will be my only snark during this review.

I’ve eaten at Sap Suckers and it was okay, but I didn’t really have anything to rave about. And maybe I’m just picky, because this quartet of restaurants seems to be doing very well. Some of the more popular dishes from Osteria da Nino are on the menu at Cafe Red, and although Cafe Red is an American restaurant, there is a distinctly Italian flavor to it. The decor is, obviously, red, with red curtains, bare wood floors and tables, and watercolors of New York landmarks on the walls. Copper pots and pans and whimsical plaques also decorate the walls, giving an overall feeling of warmth to the dining room, which I like.

My date and I visited on a night when the restaurant was packed with people and, despite our reservation, I thought we had stumbled into a private party. Everyone seemed to know everyone else. But we didn’t have to wait at all for our table, and once we were seated, we discovered that it wasn’t a private party at all, just that everyone in the restaurant seemed to know everyone else.

The staff was spot on, filling water glasses, replenishing bread (and butter – I so love good bread and butter and this bread was fresh and delicious, baked at Tom Cat Bakery in Kings Park).

We started the meal with a shared “Harvest Salad,” served with gorgonzola (one of my favorite cheeses in case you hadn’t noticed), crispy bacon, beets and toasted almonds tossed with baby greens and topped with a port wine vinaigrette. It was delicious, and I really wanted to pour the extra dressing into a little container and take it home with me. I am going to try to duplicate it in my own kitchen, but I will probably fail.

Pastas include hay and straw in creamy mushroom sauce touched with truffle oil, which was delicious, and linguine scampi style, with a lemon and garlic sauce that was refreshing and addictive.

We split an entree of Berkshire pork osso bucco (because at this point we were both stuffed from the salad and pasta courses) and it was wonderful, tender pork shank served with a vegetable braising sauce and mashed potatoes (another one of my favorite places to put butter).  The pork was so tender you could cut it with your fork, and the sauce was outstanding. The potatoes were ALMOST as good as my Nana used to make. We wiped out plates clean.

For dessert, which honestly was an effort after that large of a meal, we were disappointed by the appearance of some of the sweets, but for the most part they all looked great. I had the flourless chocolate cake atop creme anglaise, and my date had the tiramisu. We were eating off each other’s plates, and both were outstanding, the tiramisu perfectly balanced with cognac and espresso and chocolate, the result a creamy delight. The flourless chocolate cake was dense and obviously made with the best chocolate, and the creme was the perfect accompaniment.

We shared in the conversation with some of the other diners, and not all of them were as pleased with their dinner choices as we were. There are apparently a lot of “also-rans” on the menu, most of them from Osteria da Nino, but overall people seemed happy, and the atmosphere was comfortable and homey.

The bathrooms were clean and well supplied, with lovely-smelling hand soap in a little dispenser (I’m a stickler for clean bathrooms).

My only real complaint is the prices. There is no reason for seafood to be priced as high as it is ($12 for an appetizer portion (3) of pan seared scallops). The food and the setting do not warrant a lot of the prices. But I wasn’t paying so it didn’t upset me all that much.

Overall, I would give Cafe Red three stars out of five. I would suggest reservations, because they seem crowded for dinner almost every night (I don’t know about the lunchtime crowd but it couldn’t hurt to ask. Visa, Master Card and American Express accepted.

 

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