611 Northern Blvd., Great Neck
You, like I, probably have driven past the North Shore Steak House a hundred times. The massive white road house sits back from Northern Boulevard just past Great Neck's Lakeville Road.
Today when steak houses are opening with the rapidity of hamburger places, I wanted to experience a well-seasoned one (pun intended). And this is it.
North Shore Steak House has been operating since the 1960s. Its present owner, the Fives family, has run things since the '80s.
Grace Fives was manager of the Jolly Fisherman in Roslyn where sons Michael and John grew up and worked. They are now executive chefs at North Shore. The staff has been there for a long time as well, for an average of 12 years.
No reservations, 7 o'clock on a Tuesday night in August, we pulled into the parking lot. Packed!
"It's always like this," says the valet parker. The maitre d' was all charm. "Two? Just a few minutes."
A low-key family atmosphere prevails. And there is good reason. Some people eat there more than once a week - it's a steady clientele. Most customers have their own specific waiter or waitress. Club like, people greet each other.
True, we were there on an extra hectic night. But the wait staff and the maitre d' bustled about on the double. The wait staff looked spiffy in white shirts, black pants with suspenders and butcher apron (bib tucked under) tied snugly about the waist.
Lump crab meat and shrimp cocktail was $18.95. This has got to be tried - an oval plate with shredded lettuce, topped with huge lumps of pristine crab flanked by three jumbo shrimp plus cocktail sauce. Excellent crab! But I would have liked it in a footed goblet, even though at a family restaurant this was a more comfortable approach.
The shrimp and crab cake with mustard dill sauce was superb. We split a "card player's salad," so named because a group of card players had requested chopped-up hearts of lettuce, tomato, onions, mushrooms, pimentos and anchovies. I found the combo tops. No one asked, "What dressing?" - it arrived naked.
Filet mignon at $31.95 was different from my conception of filet mignon - it was larger, coarser grained. It was 14 ounces, the usual is 10 ounces. It had lots of flavor and that's what I go for. Most order filet for tenderness.
There were many fish choices, plus items such as veal Sicilian or breaded veal cutlet topped with eggplant, mozzarella and tomatoes ausjus. Or chicken oriental with boneless chicken and oriental vegetables - which makes North Shore different from other steak houses.
There was calve's liver steak sauteed or broiled ($19.95). Two 3/4-inch thick slices were topped with sauteed onions. Period. In steak house style, the vegetables are extra. Here, as one of the potato options you may have potato skins, two Idaho halves. What a terrific idea!
The dessert list is long and wonderful - some delectable examples: chocolate blackout cake, an old-fashioned hot fudge sundae, peach melba, and banana cream pie, which seems to be having a resurgence of popularity. It's marvelous at North Shore with the bananas sliced lengthwise.
Pecan pie was not too sweet, not too gooey. Coffee comes by the pot and I'm all for that. Mints are on the way out across from a 6-foot-tall carved wooden waiter (gifted by a customer) holding a plate with North Shore's business cards.
To titillate your tongue: A dramatic presentation of mozzarella and tomatoes - huge tomato slices, an inch thick, and mozzarella topped with dried tomatoes, arranged over lapping on a long white oval plate. Pecan-crusted shrimp with apricot orange sauce. Chicken done likewise. Rumanian tenderloin steak. Baked salmon crusted with horseradish. Portobello mushrooms with roasted peppers over baby greens.
Yet, the North Shore Steak House isn't on the splurge list for me. I want more steak house ambiance with my steak, I want less bustle. But it's been a packed house since 1980, with steady customers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Steady clientele since 1980 with own specific waiter or waitress. Low-key family atmosphere. Dashing waiters and waitresses. Expensive steak house fare. Lots of fish, plus creative dishes. Very casual attire.
Famous Shrimp Diable...$15.95
( Shrimp Cocktail...$18.95
Broiled Prime Porterhouse Steak (for
Grilled Rib Steak...$31.95
Rumanian Tenderloin Steak...$24.95
Broiled Fresh Swordfish...$23.95
Chocolate Blackout Cake...$5.95
Banana Cream Pie...$4.25
Food: Steak house fare, lots of fish,
Setting: Family atmosphere
Service: On the run
Location: Just south of Lakeville
Dress: Very casual
Credit cards: All major
Off premise catering: No
Private parties: 25 to 40 and to 170
Noise level: Moderate to high
Handicapped accessible: Ramp
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