Thursday, July 17, 2014


Chef Vincent "Vinny" Accardi, Jr. went far in Season 8 of Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen.  Although he did not win the title and restaurant, it did not stop him from sharing his cooking talents in his recently opened restaurant called Room 55 in Glendale, Queens.   Vinny graduated from the CIA May 5 of 2000...or rather 5/5...get it?

May I add that Hell's Kitchen 2015 Calendar boasts him for the month of August with his created recipe of Swiss Chard and Bacon Ravioli, which is not on the menu. 

Room 55 is on a much traveled road, if you are driving which really puts the restaurant in the category of "best kept secret".   Wait until the word gets out about his cooking.  I would call it "American Cuisine with tons of flavor along with a helluva lot of love."    

The restaurant is not large or "decorative".  Mahogany tables and soft chairs.  That is really all you need to enjoy your meal.  Expect "Fine Dining".  Don't expect to have a hamburger.  Vinny
prides himself on using “local” ingredients, which is defined as being within 300 miles.  That entails upstate New York, Long Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

If you are a female and happen to be there on a Thursday evening, the first glass of sangria is complimentary.  Red wines do not appeal to me, thus I chose the white wine with fruit that included white peaches.  Add a bit of peach liquor and you have one delicious concoction. 

I had the opportunity to do a chef's sampling, keeping in mind that the portion size viewed is not necessarily a full portion. I much can one person eat during one meal!

Not all Clams Casino have the exact same recipe.  Chef Vnny's casino style little neck clams are served in a broth. They are steamed open with fennel, roasted garlic, bacon, parsley, "Nice and light for summertime" as Vinny said.

There was a time when marrow bones were given to you without cost by your favorite butcher.  No longer is that true as these particular bones.  "Here we have roasted bone marrow," Vinny explained. "They come from fresh carcasses of beef and never frozen.  Rich in flavor, the bones are not the same soup bones that most people buy.  These bones come from the femur vs. the shin.  Accompanying the roasted long bone is what would be characterized as a savory honey beef stew, which adds a sweetness to the dish, along with a pickled onion and parsley salad. Place some of the marrow on the toast along with a bit of the stew and salad." 

Spring rolls are not only an Asian fare.  It's all about what is wrapped in and the sauce served with it.  Vinny sees his appetizer as something to be served with a cold beer. The basis of the roll is Long Island Duck, vegetables, ginger juice, and rice vinegar.  Having a nice "crunch" the spiced orange dipping sauce adds a great taste.

One dish called Pasta Danielle is a sentimental one for the chef named after his sister who is views as being "best friends since they were little. Any time I write a menu I name a dish after her." This particular fresh pasta is made with a 24-hour slow cooked lamb prepared in a crook pot overnight.  It is cooked with a slow cooked prune, pearl onions and sage.

One innovative entree is the Toast Crusted Florida Grouper. Crusted with an "egg bread" it's first brushed with an herb butter on both sides so that it comes out like a grilled cheese sandwich except that it is on top of a piece of fish. It is served with two types of beets, one of which is a pickled beet salad of red and yellow beets with pickled onions and a bit of radicchio to give it a briny and bitter flavor.  The second beet accompaniment is a sweet with more of a custard texture.  Beet juice from the fresh beets is cooked down to a syrupy glaze to which heavy cream is added.  Sort of like a creme brulee filling.  A beet sauce is placed underneath and at the top of this custard along with a bit of basil oil to add an even more savory taste.

Another entree, the Long Island Duck Breast, has a focus on the crispy skin and cherry syrup. The fresh cherries are cooked down with brandy and sugar with the glaze made from the remainder of the juice.  Wild rice is cooked with duck confit, prepared using the legs and thighs which is what the chef uses to prepare the duck spring rolls.  In other words, he makes use of the entire duck.  The dish is served with a simple sauteed spinach.

Chef Vinny prides himself on his prime USDA hanger steak coming from the fresh as none of his meats are either frozen or in a cryovac bag.  "It's as good as a hanger steak gets", said Vinny. Similar to a skirt steak, although not as tender. The rest of the dish had sauteed sugar snap peas, oyster mushrooms and whatever fresh vegetables are available. Top in with a cabernet reduction and fresh bones. All of the sauces are prepared from scratch in the kitchen. Place some roasted potatoes that are first fried in duck fat and adding fresh herbs. Wait until your taste buds bounce around.

Naturally, I saved room for dessert.  Okay, there was no room but I couldn't resist and had a tasting of four items each a small portion as the desserts are meant to enjoy and not wolf down.  There was a toasted almond creme brulee;  flourless chocolate cake served with candy dusted walnuts;  strawberry soup with a bit of brandy, sugar and cinnamon, cake croutons, topped with a truffle whipped cream; and a red wine and port poached pears with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

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