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May 13, 2021


One culinary experience that many of us look forward to is being able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from the farmers. With this season’s constant precipitation, waiting to see if Noah will build another ark, much damage has been done leading to the production of crappy crops.

Despite the tomato plight deterrent, Farmers Markets have still made their way to all five boroughs and one particular one taking place each Saturday morning in the parking lot of City Cellar Wine Bar & Grill, located at 1080 Corporate Drive in Westbury, LI.

Although Executive Chef Chris Randell takes advantage of buying local produce from Long Island, New Jersey and upstate New York, he is happy to share the opportunity with neighbors. It is not surprising that he uses the freshest ingredients for City Cellar’s menu. In fact, just about everything that the menu has to offer is made in-house.

City Cellar bills themselves as having “Multi-ethnic dishes (from pizza and pasta to steak & sea bass) served in an urban setting surrounded by a magnificent glass enclosed wine cellar”.

Like most fine restaurants, the bill of fare has both the usual offerings and specials of the day. I wanted to do a tasting and after the last culinary press trip decided to bring a friend.

What first caught my eye were the two particular soups. Roast Tomato and Basil Bisque topped with croutons and shaved parm cheese. That was a “usual”. The special was a Potato Artichoke soup topped with crispy fried parsnips and truffle oil. I mean, think about how delicious they sound, and yes, the taste matched.

Salads are always in order and so I chose one with spinach, gorgonzola cheese, applewood smoked bacon, Portobello mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, red onions, pine nuts, croutons and their Asian ginger dressing. Picture each item. Get each taste and the combination is superb.

Then there was the Mediterranean Hummus Dip. Not from a mix or can, but from mashed chick peas and tahini. For me, it was a bit garlicky…but then again, I’m not keen on garlic. It is served with their hearth baked flat bread.

I was most curious about a featured hot brisket that was cooked for 12 hours. How tender and delicious can you get…if done right. Yes, it was. Normally served on bread with fries, I opted to have an appetizer portion, bare.

Seafood was tested and tasted as our fabulous waitress Victoria Lindscott (aka Torey), brought an Asian Seared Rare Tuna Salad with spinach and mushrooms, topped with crispy onions, accompanied by the ginger dressing.

With enough dessert delights to choose from, it was better to just have them bring out…THE SAMPLE PLATTER! This one is really for at least four people as it comes with the following: Classic Crème Brulee – vanilla bean custard, caramelized sugar, with a fruit n’ spice biscotti (this is served out of the ramekin); Warm Chocolate Cake (the one that has the bittersweet chocolate oozing in the middle); Key Lime and Fruit Tartlet with Berry Sauce; (so berry, berry yummy); Iggy’s Mom’s NY Style Cheesecake; various gelatos and biscotti and my favorite…Warm Apple Strudel. Normally, I would never order apple strudel, but Chris’ recipe made both the inside and outside outstanding.

So, lets get to a few other things here, other than that their website is www.bigtimerestaurants.com (City Cellar is one of a group of restaurants). If I were into wine drinking (vs. wine tasting), the enormous and curved wine bar, which is easily spotted when you enter the restaurant, is stocked with wines from all over the world, including Long Island.

You can take advantage of their Sunset Special of a 3-course dinner where you pay for the entrée over $20 and get either a soup or salad and dessert gratis. There’s live music (I hate when corpses perform) on Friday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

If you want to get a glimpse of some of my food photos from City Cellar, go to www.merleswhirls.blogspot.com and scroll down to Wednesday, July 29th.

Speaking of City…do you know the NY Times Building on W. 44th St., located directly across from Shubert Alley is now the Discovery Times Square Exposition? (No, but hum a few bars, and I’ll fake it.) What’s there, you ask? Two great exhibits (You have to purchase a ticket for each). One features the actual artifacts from the TITANIC! When you enter, you are given a “boarding pass” with the name and information about a passenger. You then move through a series of dramatic galleries including the Ship’s construction, life on board, and the ill-fated night of the sinking, as well as recent artifact rescue efforts. There are re-created first- and third-class cabins, the Grand Staircase (that leads to nowhere) as the exhibition connects visitors with the Ship’s passengers and crew through personal stories and the largest collection of Titanic artifacts, many on display for the first time after being recovered from the ocean floor, 12,460 feet below the ocean’s surface. At the end you get to find out if you survived.

“Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia” is the second exhibit. At the time of her discovery in 1974, “Lucy” was the oldest known and best preserved upright walking human ancestor. This discovery altered our understanding of human origins. With more than 100 artifacts from Ethiopia, the Cradle of Humanity, “Lucy’s Legacy” traces the evolution of mankind from the 3.2 million year-old age of “Lucy” to the present day and seminal cultures from Ethiopia’s majestic history. Discovery Times Square Exposition is open all week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit www.discoverytsx.com.

August 13, 2009 - Queens Times


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