By Carol Brock
255-41 Jericho Tpke. Floral Park
Nancy would be proud of the way her two daughters and son-in law are carrying on at Nancy’s (once Nancy’s Fireside) in Floral Park. It’s a three generation, 50-year-old family affair. David Saunders, the son-in-law, who cooked at Lepinasse in Manhattan’s Ritz Carlton (and also in Lyon, Paris, Chicago and Philadelphia) is chef.
The tap room and restaurant have been updated but have a mellow, lovingly cared-for-through-the-years patina — candlelight at the high and low pub tables and dining tables. There are hunting prints and a cathedral ceiling with copper saucepans hanging from the rafters. White cloths and fresh flowers are everywhere. Tap water in a stylish bottle is brought to your table along with ice-filled goblets — a festive touch. There’s a basket of green (homegrown in season) apples in the room with red banquets.
David, who likes to relate that his father-in-law owned the Triangle Hof Brau, is a creative, contemporary American chef, dedicated to things fresh.
There are only five entrees on the menu, but the list of specials is long. After the recitative, your server will leave the list with prices at your table.
My special was an appetizer of lobster quesadilla with a great sauce accompanied by outrageously delicious, sweet pickled pepper strips. (And my nice waitress inquired “more sauce?”) The quesadilla oozed with pepper jack; the lobster, minced, seemed sparser.
A complimentary soup is set before you. Tonight’s was a deep green, ultra velvety spinach puree.
I had heard of scallops with lobster sauce as one of Nancy’s greats, but tonight it was crab cakes with Pommery mustard sauce. These lump crabcakes looked like large fricadelen — a fish ball about 1 1/2 inches thick. It rests atop a bed of sautéed spinach set on either side of a mound of whipped potatoes and crowned with a jaunty carrot (very young, sprouting a bit of greenery, actually cute.) There’s a light mustard sauce dotted with fresh tomato bits. Voila! A new approach to crabcakes.
David is prone to having a potato nightly and a fresh green vegetable. Tonight was green beans. The petite beans looked and tasted as if plucked from a garden out back. Doggy bagged, at room temperature, it became tomorrow’s plush picnic lunch.
David keeps desserts to four. My waitress enthused over the vanilla bean creme brulee with the crisp caramel coating. I selected the apple tart as the best pairing with my appetizer and entree. It was a thin square of puff pastry topped with apple slices, served warm on a large plate swirled with caramel sauce. A petite ball of vanilla ice cream plus a fanned strawberry completed the presentation. Coffee is served in a white mug with spoon inserted. Silvered cream and sugar have a pub-like air about them.
My next encounter was dinner in the tap room — same size but a cathedral ceiling and lots of dark wood as a tap room should have. Fans twirl on high. Here, the candles are in amber glass. At the dinner hour, it’s a major dining space even though the bar is long and handsome.
This night stuffed clams with mussel sauce was my thing. I loved the touch of sauce beneath the clams and it looked attractive with minced fresh tomato bits scattered about. The rolls, incidentally, have an irresistible, faintly garlic crust.
Slow-roasted Long Island duck was two hefty pieces — breast and leg atop sautéed spinach with a mashed potato mound alongside. Two petite carrots, rabbit ear like, sprouted from it. Slow roasting produces a nicely done, juicy but not fatty product. The chocolate mousse cake was a superb dessert. Right size, right sweetness. Well … perfection.
Pub restaurant with warmth and charm. Very fine, creative American food. In family three generations. A “don’t tell anyone else” treasure.
Fresh mussels steamed w/ roasted garlic, fresh tomatoes & parsley, served in natural broth…$9.95
Maine lobster quesadilla with roasted onions, pepper jack cheese & lobster sauce…$10.95
Country Salad w/ spicy walnuts, roasted garlic vinaigrette & crispy brie…$5.95
Grilled doublecut pork chop with natural pan drippings…$17.95
l4-oz strip platter served sizzling hot smothered in sautéed onions & mushrooms…$19.95
Nancy’s warm apple tart with fresh caramel sauce & vanilla ice cream…$5.95
Cuisine: Creative American
Setting: Pub and restaurant
Hours: L-Tues-Fri, D-Tues-Sun
Setting: English pub and restaurant
Service: Most helpful
Parking: Municipal lot across street
Location: Between 256th St & Little Neck Pkwy
Dress: Neat casual (no tank tops)
Credit cards: All major
Private parties: To 70
Off-premise catering: Available
Noise level: Fri & Sat, medium
Handicap access: Yes