Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Epicurean Adventures: Southern-ish in Sayville

I, if I may say so myself, am an exceptionally understanding wife. Other husbands have told me so as they listen enviously to the independent activities I allow Boy. My only requirement for when Boy goes on solo expeditions with other Boys is that upon his return, he feed me, and do it well.

Two weeks after he went skiing in upstate New York, he finally decided to make good on that promise, and we got in the car and decided to drive down Main Street in Sayville (artfully portrayed here by painter Peter Tartaglia) in search of grub. Our local little village-type area, this cute downtown-y strip has bitty bars, kitschy shops, locally-owned restaurants, and other good things that happen when things are old and densely populated.

We were originally going to head in the other direction, toward East Islip's smaller downtown section which had a Meson Ole, but Boy missed the turn and so we headed east. We passed by a few bars, but I wasn't in a bar-food kind of mood, and but a cute, distinctively Texan sign caught our eye, and we decided to try the Armadillo Grille.

At first, I was afraid that this restaurant was a chain. The branding was too professional, the interior too Texas lodge-y, and the menu too well-printed. I was relieved when a waitress walked past and her shirt only listed two addresses for the venue.

When you first walk in, there's a big rock siding wall, and the most brightly lit bar I've ever been in greets your eye, stretching down the hardwood floored room. It's not that the light was glaring, but it certainly allowed an unmistakable view at your drinkmates, which I just thought was interesting. A large fireplace is situated on the far end of the dining room, and sticky-looking, high-gloss wooden tables came with a full brown roll of paper towels. We were in business.

We were immediately served fresh tortilla chips, light and airy, crispy and warm. I'm a huge sucker for house-made tortilla chips and I dug in, not regretting for a moment that I kept scratching up my already cut roof 0f mouth. (I'd say that's another story, but I honestly don't know how I acquired this particular injury.) The salsa was different, similar to Meson Ole's in that it was thick without being chunky, and sweet. It was sweeter than Meson Ole's, and tastier, too, but it did take a little getting used to from the tangy Tostitos style and the pico de gallo style I'm more accustomed to.

The food ended up being extremely buttery -- tasty, but a bit rich. I ordered a shrimp fajita burrito -- but being the pain in the ass I am and missing Felipe's Taqueria as much as I have been -- with fried instead of grilled shrimp, and with sour cream. I decided to be relatively good and ordered the marinated grilled vegetables as my side.

The shrimp fajita burrito was good, well-seasoned, but it lacked that "fresh" quality that goes with crisper innards. The vegetables were nicely caramelized, but I was looking for a crunchier sensation rather than a butter-coated one. The breading on the shrimp was definitely different than my beloved Felipe's, but the size of them was good. But then again, when you pay $16 for a burrito and sides, you best hope the shrimp is of decent proportions!

Boy asked to try a cornbread muffin, which was crusty and sweet as cornbread muffins ought to be, but it wasn't anything special. Give me a muffin from Jacques-imo's anyday!

He ordered the pulled meat sandwich, which was a sloppy fork-and-knifer of a job, with pulled pork and pulled chicken mixed together and served on a hoagie roll. It was good, the barbeque sauce being neither too sweet nor tangy, but as Boy pointed out, it wasn't altogether authentic, either. But whatever -- this was only about $10 or so.

The pulled meat sandwich also came with a side, and Boy wisely chose the mac and cheese, which was gooey and fabulous. Now THIS is a dish that doesn't suffer from over-buttering.

Long story short, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't awesome. Would I go back? Meh ... maybe. Would I ever get a burrito here again? Unlikely, but I WOULD probably try the other stuff.

Anyway, there's just so much more exploring left to do to return to an okay spot.


  1. Sounds awesome. Keri (a.k.a. Sam)

  2. Hi, that's my painting! thanks for using it. see more at www.petertartaglia.com

    1. Thanks for letting me use it! It's lovely, and I cited it with the link to your site so that readers can enjoy more of your work.