I hadn’t been to Tweed’s Restaurant and Buffalo Bar in Riverhead in a few years. The atmosphere remains the same—a sort of late Victorian men’s club set up on the ground floor of the J.J. Sullivan Hotel. Vintage posters, photographs, maps and a huge stuffed buffalohead dominate. The food is better than I remember it, though. It’s quite good, in fact.
As you might expect there is also a wide selection of spirits available from Tweed’s bar. My husband started the dinner hour with a Gin Martini straight up. He found it very cold and delicious.
I was intrigued by the Bison Cabbage—our server Thomas explained that it’s a soup of equal parts chopped bison and cabbage. But I decided to order the Corn Chowder to start. This turned out to be the perfect choice. Chef Harold Martinez apparently knows how to blend corn and its milk with cow’s milk to produce a light but creamy soup. It’s flavorful, with just the right amounts of chopped red and green pepper. I added a sprinkle of black pepper and ate every drop.
We tried the Fried Calamari. It was tender and of an appetizing, average size. The accompanying dip was a knockout, with a tomato cream sauce with grated ginger.
Husband started with a Grilled Bison Kebab. I tried a piece of this juicy meat. It is more flavorful than beef, with a nice texture. Our son ordered Steamers and Mussels to start. He commented, “I never had steamers before but they’re GOOD!” They were dunked, drained and done in short order. He ordered elk as his main course. This was a special, prepared as the Bison Hanger Steak on the menu is, with a wild mushroom cognac cream sauce, squash and mashed potato. After wolfing down everything on his plate except one bite of mashed potato, he mooed, leaned his head against a nearby beam, pulled one foot up onto the banquette he was sitting on and passed into a state of slit-eyed digestive euphoria.
I ordered the Roasted Chicken. I appreciate it when a classic is done just right. The French-cut half chicken was juicy on the inside and served in a lovely presentation with mushroom rice pilaf, steamed cauliflower and broccoli and squash. The vegetables were steamed to that sweet spot of perfection – completely tender but with no mushiness. The chicken’s skin has a pronounced salt and pepper flavor—this dish will ring your every savory food bell.
Husband had Soft-shelled Crabs for the first time. Turns out he’s not crazy about soft-shelled crabs, but he liked the chili pepper sauce they were in and his pilaf. The rice was crispy on the outside, moist and delicious within.
Tweed’s Wine List includes selections from abroad as well as locals including Macari, Lenz, Palmer, Paumanok, Raphael and Wölffer. Thomas suggested Comtesse Therese’s 2005 Merlot to pair with the elk. Since our son is under 21, we enjoyed this delicious glass of red in his honor.
Teenage Boy ordered a decaf Cappuccino for dessert. Then he “helped” me eat my New York Cheesecake—nicely firm and not over sweet, with a Graham cracker bottom crust. I tasted Husband’s Kentucky Pecan Pie, which was very sweet and nutty, as it should be.
Teenage Boy said, regarding his first elk experience, “They should call it sleepy steak.” But he perked right up when he realized he’d been given rock candy to stir into his coffee.
The elk was from Colorado, but that bison is about as local as it gets—from Tweed’s owner Ed Tuccio’s own ranch on the East End of Long Island.
Tweed’s Restaurant and Buffalo Bar, 17 East Main Street, Riverhead. 631-208-3151. www.tweedsrestaurant.com.