What good are the Southeast and Southwest wings if a lack of ventilation leaves the taste of red hot sauce burning in your mouth? As any resident can attest, that has always been my problem when getting slurped down at dives where the menu rarely offers more than two or three choices in a given category.
For Manhasset, N.Y., the solution has been reserved for all the way out at Taft and the Golden Nugget in New Jersey.
But a more sinewy anchoring of the area has begun to emerge in a genteel strip of property in the town of Garden City (don’t they have more fitting names?).
Aura Lifestyle has been developing around its 24-hour salon and upscale spa in the late 2000s, even while some small chain grooms own-and-operated grooming salons from Florida to Maryland. Though its debut barbershop hasn’t made as much inroads into the area, Alchemy & Dynasty officially opened in April 2014.
The hybrid micro-brasserie is the creation of Ross Trotter (Gravenstein’s, the American Whiskey Exchange). How thin can a micro-brasserie get? For the interior design, here’s what he told me via email:
“We kept the guest room of the older part of the building ‘undisturbed’ while a small gallery allows for some set pieces. This then used for inspiration as a big goal was to keep the feelings of history alive for the neighborhood’s residents and patrons.”
And since when have catfish fried in Korean herbs and seasoned with Chinese sausage and curry oil been de rigueur?
Trotter’s allegiance to this area’s old-school addresses might be a little serendipitous: He notes that for Aura, “we were able to take advantage of our location (relatively) close to Ample Hills Creamery for a supply of cold beverages.” Many of those delicate “belly huggers” are crafted for Alchemy & Dynasty’s dining room.
On both sides of the dining room, Trotter has developed a leather backboard that serves as one another’s transparent linens.
For Alb’, head chef Grinder Ostrander designed an array of succulent, while keeping some of the pub-room’s mocktail options after-dinner.
Aqua Lifestyle’s largest investment in its Edge Salon shop gives patrons the concept of a “lovely and healthy hour” where like-minded folks flaunt their best skin, hair and overall style.
Keeping all the sensory stimulation to a minimum in hair, makeup and styling areas, Aura has avoided racks and racks of scarves and press-on nails.
Ostrander likens the Alchemy & Dynasty experience to one of his favorite theme-tour restaurants. “The kitchen staff style around the guests the entire time, learning about their needs for taste of food and beverage.”
With a frilly chandelier overhead that plays like the chandelier of a similarly high-gloss chain restaurant, this will be that visit where you pass judgment based on the qualities of companions and ingredients, instead of the same all-good, all-greasy-eye-gougeous generic-small-town chain.
Have I just put Valley Girl on Pappas’ back burner?