The waitress leads the way. When she arrives at a large rectangular table set for two, within a wrap-around booth that could easily seat six, she pulls the table out and into the aisle for ease of sitting. She waits for guests to take their seats and then replaces the table.
At Melville’s Blackstone Steakhouse, this sort of service matches both clientele attire and the prices next to menu items. Its ownership, Anthony Scotto Restaurants, also owns steak-and-sushi establishments Rare650 in Syosset and Insignia in Smithtown.
A server brings an iPad to the table so that diners can scroll through photos of menu items, including specialty drinks. With the tap of a finger, a photo of a martini turns into a several-line listing of the drink’s ingredients.
A champagne flute filled with bubbling magenta liquid contains a matching magenta flower, resting gracefully at the glass’ bottom. Called “The Gatsby,” the drink consists of Double Cross Vodka, St. Germain Liqeur, raspberry nectar, hibiscus flower and Prosecco.
Named the “Liquid Cupcake,” a milky white concoction of Zing Red Velvet Vodka, Godiva White Chocolate liqueur and cream possesses the power to truly liven up a birthday party, despite its sweet and innocent name.
“We’re a modern steakhouse,” said General Manager Dodo Tecusan. “We’re a very nice mixture of light fare and steakhouse fare.”
One special this past Saturday night was an example of a dish on the lighter side – giant grilled shrimp served over watermelon and arugula, sprinkled with feta cheese and drizzled with a light and tangy dressing.
The Kobe Beef “Hot Stone” appetizer ($29) brings to the table both meat and an activity. Thinly-sliced slabs of beef, laid out on a rectangular dish, sit next to a Japanese hot stone grill. The waiter places two pieces of the beef on the hot stone, over a still-lit fire, and leaves the rest for the diners to cook with a pair of wooden tongs.
From the sushi bar came the Volcano Roll ($37) – an eight-piece roll that is as much a visual spectacle as it sounds. One of the most popular sushi orders, according to Tecusan, the Volcano Roll incorporates king crab, pepper tuna, avocado and honey wasabi sauce. And fire. The eight pieces encircle an open flame, created of a small mound of salt-like substance. The flame extinguishes itself.
And then come the entrees.
As if dressed up for a subdued version of a tropical luau, the Crispy Skin Scottish Salmon ($38) is garnished with the same variety of magenta flower resting at the bottom of The Gatsby. Beside the perfectly pinkish piece of fish, served on a bed of spinach, is a small pile of cherry tomato salad.
The Filet Mignon ($49) is not quite as pretty, but it is not supposed to be. Despite a charred exterior, its insides are a perfect pink. Cooked to medium, as ordered, there is a tenderness to each bite. The accompanying mashed potatoes are a perfect complement – soft and smooth, they blend harmoniously with the juices from the steak.
There is simply no room in the stomach for dessert after so many courses, but it is nearly impossible to refuse the dessert menu.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie Creme Brulee is dangerous. Carmelized, sprinkled with miniature chocolate chips and decorated with two triangular portions of its namesake cookie, the oval-shaped ramekin is half empty before the diner realizes it. And then it is completely empty, and all that is left is a culinary memory.
The Blondie Bottom Banana Cream Pie is an equal threat. The banana cream and whipped cream topping are sweet but not too sweet, thanks to the slices of bananas and the Blondie crust that forms the foundation of the dessert. The marshmallows on top are a nice surprise – literally, due to the restaurant’s dim lighting.
Blackstone opened on July 18, 2005, Tecusan said. It will celebrate nine years next month with a week-long rotation of anniversary specials, including dishes that are no longer on the restaurant’s regular menu.
The establishment’s executive chef typically changes the menu twice a year, to account for seasonal changes. The summer menu – rolled out about two weeks ago – features a larger selection of “lighter fare” than the winter menu does.
On the fish menu at Blackstone is a fresh Hawaiian cut of the day; it changes every day or so.
“We try to change with the times,” Tecusan said, noting that the trend across Long Island right now is the modernized steak house.
Originally from Romania, Tecusan worked on cruise ships for “a long time” and eventually received his first Long Island job offer from Tony Scotto. Tecusan took the job, at Chateau Briand, and in 2005 ended up starting work at Blackstone.