By Rachel Rosenstein
I have never been to Napa, California, but it seems as though its lifestyle has captured the American imagination. It is an attitude, a style, and it encompasses the ease and relaxed feeling of being with family and friends. Honig Grill, which opened this past February, took the place of P.J. Clarke’s. Many remember it as Major’s Steak house, which was in its place many years before. My family and I decided to go on a whim for dinner, and it was fantastic! The decor was beautiful, and it had a spare, clean look. Wainscotting is painted to look like driftwood, while other walls are painted a soothing pale blue-gray and decorated simply with baskets and mirrors. Overhead are beautiful hanging lights, and the windows are covered with modern, smokey glass shades. The sprawling space comfortably seats 240 diners. The room was filled with lots of spirited couples, small groups, and families. I noticed right away that it was a bit noisy, but nonetheless it was a beautiful night, and we chose to sit outside to appreciate their intimate patio area.
As soon as we sat down a very nice waitress delivered the most incredible looking bread. It was a cross between a soft honey flavored sticky bun and a perfect New York style soft pretzel; the combination just worked! I typically don’t think bread is photo-worthy, but this one was. There was an amazing selection of appetizers to choose from. We started with the Napa spring roll, which was filled with pulled pork and cabbage in a mild and slightly smokey chili sauce. I also recommend the tuna tartar. It was truly delicious! Also worth ordering is the artichoke and spinach dip paired with warm potato chips.
There were several interesting salads to choose from including the Rutherford 850 salad which is a spin off a traditional cobb salad with goat cheese and a honey mustard dressing. It looked very interesting, but I was already eyeing the gorgeous sushi rolls that I saw being delivered to nearby tables. They looked like a work of art! There was a separate sushi menu with about a dozen options. Kudos went to the California Heaven Roll stuffed with fresh crab, avocado, and topped with a heaping amount of kani salad. The kani salad was the best I have ever tasted. The roll was beautifully presented and tasted even better! I appreciated the little paper umbrella they stuck on top of the roll. For a second, I felt like I was at the beach even though I was eating in Woodbury. My parents both ordered the Branzino and said it was excellent. A piece of fish on a plate typically doesn’t excite me, but I have to say, it looked quite good. The couple at the table next to us had the barbeque and braised short ribs, which I was secretly hoping one of my parents would order because they both looked incredible! I politely leaned over and asked them how their food was, and they said they enjoyed the short ribs very much, but loved the barbecued ribs even more. It took everything in my power not to ask the nice lady for one of her french fries that came with those killer ribs. They were thin, crisp, and looked perfectly salted. We were full and didn’t opt for dessert, which is not typical for my family, but I will say that the banana cream pie and the twelve layer chocolate cake (how can that be bad?) were very tempting. I suppose that’s something to look forward to next time.
I have heard people complain about the service at Honig Grill. However, our service was excellent. Maybe it took a little time to work out the kinks as it has only been open for 7 months now, but I think they are right on track. Honig seemed to have a crew in place that makes you feel like you are welcome and that they want you to truly enjoy yourself. It can be a pricey meal or a very reasonable dining experience depending on how you order. Split a salad or appetizer and then a sushi roll with a friend, and I promise it won’t break the bank. Honig Grill is open for lunch and dinner. They are located at 8289 Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury, and I suggest making a reservation. It is always fun to try something new and different. I can assure you that this restaurant is well worth a fifteen minute drive for a taste of California right here on Long Island.