July 17, 2024
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July 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Enjoy NOIR in Great Neck

Great Neck isn’t often a location I get asked much about. In case you aren’t familiar with the geography, it’s on the northern edge of Long Island, kind of near the border with Queens. It’s on a little peninsula that sticks out to the north, but not one that is connected by a bridge or a tunnel to The Bronx. In fact, if you are trying to get to today’s restaurant, it’s north of Northern Boulevard.

That said, few people ever just “pass through” Great Neck looking for a place to eat. But that doesn’t mean that the food there isn’t great. I was very pleasantly surprised by NOIR, a local family-owned restaurant that is the community’s only high-end fleishig option.

NOIR Internal

The same owners are also the proprietors of the popular NOIR Bakery & Cafe. Open for about six years, it’s become a community staple, and when the space next door became available, the owners decided it was time for Great Neck to be able to fill the need for which people had usually been commuting to Queens or the Five Towns.

The result is a minimalist, sleek, trendy spot. It features a partially open kitchen, giant vaulted ceilings and a good amount of outdoor seating out front.

Smoked trout crostini

When I was invited to NOIR, the first thing that I noticed about the menu was that there were plenty of fish options. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised given that this is Great Neck, and Persian Jews are known for their love of fish. In the “Small Bites” section of the menu, I’d recommend getting the Smoked Trout Crostini. Available for purchase by the piece (very helpful), this was a toasted challah crostini topped with smoked trout, dill, lime aioli and rose petals. Not only did it look delicious, but it offered a really composed bite. The smokiness of the fish went well with the dill and rose petals, while the lime aioli provided just enough bite to balance everything out.

Looking at the “For the Table” part of the menu, there are so many great options to choose from. The Lamb Chops may have been the best of their kind I have had in a long time. Marinated in miso and sesame and topped with tiny cubes of chili, I loved the flavor profile here. With a salty and savory base combined with a slightly spicy topping (no seeds, so not very spicy), this may have been the best bite of the entire night.

Popcorn fish

While there are a few salads on the menu, I would encourage the salad seekers to do something else instead. If you order the Popcorn Fish, you’ll see that it comes on top of a mesclun mixed salad with red onion and slivered celery. The salad itself is pretty good, but the cubes of tempura fried grouper steal the show here. Grouper isn’t found regularly on kosher restaurant menus, so you may not have had it before, but it’s a fairly lean white fish that is slightly sweet (almost like black sea bass). Each bite of grouper will make you want the next. The outside is super crispy with the inside being flaky and tasty. Getting some of the salad on your fork at the same time is a real delight.

For main courses, you have plenty of choices. If it’s beef you are looking for, order the Hangar Steak Skewer. A visually striking dish, skewer is topped with a green salsa and served over a bed of charred broccoli rabe, sitting in a pool of lemongrass and cherry tomato reduction. I loved everything about this dish. The broccoli rabe was crispy (even sitting in the reduction), and the meat was a great base for the double acidity of the reduction and the salsa. To be fair, I would have been happy dredging almost anything in that reduction.

Hangar steak skewer

Speaking of red sauces, the Moroccan Fish is the way to go if you are trying to take advantage of your location in Great Neck. With a tomato sauce base, the fish is served with red peppers, fingerling potatoes, chickpeas and fresh herbs. Not only is the fish super delicate and flaky, but it is elevated by absorbing some of the flavor of the sauce. The red peppers make the sauce a bit spicy, the potatoes remain crispy, and the chickpeas add a textural element as well.

If you have room for dessert, try the Shaved Pineapple. With an array of butterflied pineapple slices arranged like tents across the plate, it’s easy to grab a slice, a little bit of the vanilla ice cream and some of the lemon cookie crumble at the same time. The mouthfeel is perfect with the crunchiness of the crumble complementing the classic fruit and ice cream pairing well. It’s light, sweet and a perfect ending to a great meal.

Moroccan fish

One last thing to keep in mind is that the menu changes a little more frequently here than other places due to the geography. Many of the patrons are regulars, leading the chef to change the menu to keep everyone coming back.

Even if you aren’t a regular, stop into NOIR and enjoy the flavors Great Neck has to offer. It might be off the beaten path, but it can also be a destination if you make it one.

Shaved pineapple

Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].

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