I can't count on both hands the number of times I'd driven past the little place on Lake Avenue with charming boxed Coleus lining the exterior and enclosing the sidewalk seating area, and wondered "What is this place all about?" Finally, in the late Spring Jay Cardinal at I had a chance to go.
As it turns out, Zar Cafe, located in St. James, has an equally charming interior, reminscent of one of those intimate, smaller restaurants you might find in the City or Hoboken. They specialize in Mediterrean cuisine, including Greek and Persian food. The Butternut Squash Soup was really excellent--- substantial, but not fatty, and possessing a unique flavor. Ordinarily, I avoid sake-based cocktails (since half of the time they're the token exoticism in your drink, frequently misunderstood in the hands of less-experienced mixologists). Yet for some reason, something compelled me to try the Autumn Wind. As it turns out, it didn't disappoint--- it was a really balanced, clean and tasty drink. Our seasonal entrees were both excellent.
The staff were extremely gracious, and the juxtaposition of the snug, Mediterrean-influenced interior and the sillouettes of the boxed Coleus outside made for a calming visual with our early evening dinner. Zar is definitely a repeat visit!
Living in the peace and quiet of Pond House, it's easy to forget we're just a few minutes from a major shopping mall. Newlywed austerity measures aside, Bobby's Burger Palace, (located at the Smith Haven Mall) is an extremely affordable and delightful eat. The pop-ish interior is cheerful, and the service is remarkably fast. (DISCLAIMER: DH & I do not go there at peak times, when I've heard it can be mobbed.) The sweet potato fries (and their coordinating sauce) are amazing, and my favorite burder is the Bobby Blue Burger. The beers (which are also fiscally friendly) are well-suited to the burgers.
You can even place an order in advance for pick-up and expedite the line process. (Just remember---BBP is quick to prepare your meals, so you can't do the leisurely-pizza-parlour-pick-up-stroll... they'll be cold by the time you get 'em home!)