Rockville Centre tends to take on a carnival vibe when the sun goes down, so it is fitting that an eatery with a decidedly festival-like atmosphere has pitched its tent on the bar and restaurant strewn stretch.
With a black and white outdoor awning that belies an interior that is colorful in both its décor and menu, The Bowery Bar & Fare opened this past summer on Sunrise Highway. Taking over the spot of a well-worn Irish pub that sat in the location for close to 30 years, Bowery infuses new life into the space with a fresh concept—complete with food and drink options that make the brain buzz.
Repurposed carnival tents hang over about 40 tables in the front dining area, with more seats both in the bar area and at the actual bar, with yet more spots to be had in the back patio. Before looking at the menu, the eyes drift to a wall lined with stuffed animal prizes, parlor games, a DJ booth with vintage boomboxes and even more games outside, including giant versions of Jenga and Connect Four.
Save the games for later—first, it’s time to eat. The menu consists of street food and extreme eats from across the flavor spectrum. Aside from the ubiquitous buffalo wings, the Snacks and Apps menu delivers mini corn dogs, Bao street tacos, suppli (fried rice balls) and an absolutely raunchy beer-battered giant pretzel served with cinnamon sugar cream dip and a cheddar bacon ale dip. Deep fried and a great way to make friends, the pretzel is at its best dipped into that decadent cinnamon cream. The apple fennel soup, a starter found on the restaurant’s special fall menu, is especially noteworthy, as the concoction, served with a charred brie crostini, is all the evidence one needs to realize the food at Bowery is more than merely neon flair—there is a seasoned chef with serious culinary chops creating magic in the kitchen.
The fun continues as you slink down the menu, with kebabs and sliders. Along with chicken and lamb kebabs, Bowery also breaks the mold with Impossible Burger Kebabs, with cherry tomatoes, red onion and tzatziki. A meat alternative for those who crave more than mere falafel, the Impossible Burger has made its way onto various restaurant menus recently, with a flavor close enough to meat to utterly confuse the eater. As for sliders, along with sausage and pepper, Philly cheesesteak and chili dog sliders, Bowery also boasts gyro sliders with house-made gyro meat, onions, lettuce, tomato and tzatziki. That house-made gyro meat makes all the difference.
Bowery also offers burgers and dogs. Three styles of franks are listed, all served with curly fries, including Chicago style (“dragged through the garden”), Dirty Water (NYC’s take with onion sauce) and Chili Cheese. The Chicago style is brightly flavored and even includes the bright green relish rarely found on the East Coast. As for burgers, sure, there’s a cheeseburger—but then there’s the Donut Burger and Grilled Cheese Burger. As if you need to be told, the Donut Burger is served on a glazed donut, but also includes cheddar, applewood smoked bacon and Bowery sauce. It’s a high caloric investment, but worth the risk for a night out. However, even the Donut Burger stands in awe of the Grilled Cheese burger, which swaps out the standard bun for two grilled cheese sandwiches. Goodnight, folks.
More fun between bread is the Jaffle, an Australian street food that exists somewhere between a waffle and a panini. Jaffles available include prosciutto and mozzarella, chicken, falafel, pulled pork and Reuben. But the best Jaffle is perhaps the simplest: ham and Swiss served with fig jam. It is sweet and salty, buttery and crispy. Finally, main dishes at Bowery include Tacos Al Pastor, skirt steak, chicken paella, fish and chips, and a mammoth pulled pork poutine with cheddar and country gravy served over curly fries.
Of course, the signature cocktail menu shines with over-the-top liquid courage, like the Strongman, Fire Eater, Human Cannonball and Fun House. There’s also alcohol-infused snow-cones and more than 20 beers on tap—including a custom fall brew by Barrage Brewing Company, the Bowery Brunette, a cinnamon apple pie beer. And at the end of the meal, be sure to get the butter cake—topped with ice cream, it lovingly takes the edge off.
The Bowery Bar & Fare, 300 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre; 516-493-9023;