Friendly At Charlie Browns
By Luann, Margaret Ann & Rich
The handshake. Its
the quintessential greeting, a welcoming sign of friendship,
trust, and hospitality. So it serves as no coincidence to
the Foodies that a handshake is the logo over at Charlie Browns
Charlie Browns, a New Jersey-based chain, has been building
its reputation for over 40 years. Its Commack restaurant,
which opened about four years ago, is one of four in Nassau
and Suffolk counties, offering diners an enticing draw that
has become unique in the restaurant biz a Farmers
Market Salad Bar. A colorful display of healthy options, the
spotlessly clean salad bar supplies diners with endless choices
and is chock full of crisp greens, fresh fruits and vegetables,
cold salads, cheeses and breads.
After sitting down at our rounded booth in a cozy corner,
we were greeted by our delightful server Shirley, who knew
the menu inside and out. As we perused the appetizer menu,
our eyes were drawn immediately to the Three Cheese Crab Dip
($7.99). Served with frybread wedges that are crisp on the
outside and soft and flaky on the inside, this is not your
average dip by any means. Warm, creamy and baked with Gruyere,
cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, the dip is packed with colossal
lump crabmeat and Old Bay seasoning. One bite sends your taste
buds into a heavenly flutter.
We also tried a new menu item, the Pan Asian Seared Ahi Tuna
($8.99), rare yellowfin tuna lightly seared with sesame seeds,
and the Calypso Coconut Shrimp ($6.99), one of Charlie Browns
seasonal specials, which change every six weeks or so. The
playful dish comes topped with sweet pineapple salsa that
plays well with the coconut flavor.
Sweetly satisfied with our appetizers, we moved on to our
entrees, a parade of meat and seafood to cater to anyones
taste. As luck would have it, we visited Charlie Browns
on a Wednesday evening, which meant that with the purchase
of any prime rib dinner we got a free side of shrimp, cooked
coconut, buffa lo fried with a kick (our favorite), tomato
basil, scampi, or cocktail style.
We started with a horseradish crusted prime rib ($16.99 for
a Queen cut). Covered in panko crisp, airy, Japanese
style breadcrumbs the steak comes tender and juicy.
The panko adds a slight crunch as a hint of horseradish tickles
Flavorful petite filet mignon in the twin filet special ($18.99)
come juicy with a bright pink center and are each served on
top of a huge onion ring, crispy and thick. Pair the onion
ring with a piece of meat and dip it in the savory gravy with
mushrooms and onions that comes with it and youll be
in steakhouse heaven.
On the seafood side, we fell head over heels for the tasty
Colossal Crab Cakes ($15.49), loaded with finely shredded
crab and balanced with just enough breading. Another new menu
item, the fresh cedar plank salmon ($16.99), is a definite
winner in our book. Served in a sweet bourbon marinade, the
salmon is roasted on a cedar plank that locks in the juices,
keeping the fish fresh and succulent.
Although the salad bar confirmed for us that Charlie Browns
is a different dining experience, its sweet potato fries just
sweetened our deduction. Since enjoying the fries at Charlie
Browns, we have found ourselves asking for them at other
establishments, but often to no avail.
One look at the Macaroon Mudslide Cake ($5.79) for dessert
and we were sold. Rich molten fudge in the center of rich
chocolate cake with candied coconut layers flows like lava
out of a chocolate volcano in this limited time only dessert.
The Pineapple Upside Down Cake ($5.79) is fruity bliss, topped
with roasted pineapple and filled with a coconut cream cheese
Charlie Browns lunch menu is just as extensive as its
dinner menu. The express lunch ($6.99 rotating specials/$7.99
for standard menu items), with guaranteed service in 10 minutes
or less, caters to the time-pressed business clientele, and
weekday specials offer variety and value. Banquet facilities
are available as well.
High points for presentation and an emphasis on healthy options
puts Charlie Browns high on our list. Were members
of the Handshake Club are you?
88 Veterans Memorial Highway
Steak, seafood, salad bar
Atmosphere: Cozy, casual, American steakhouse
Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
Friday & Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.,
Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Check Web site for lounge hours.