I had actually heard decent things about this place food-wise from several people, including my parents, who really enjoyed certain sushi menu items when they ate at the branch in Lexington. I have also had several readers recommend it.
The first time we went, it was just hubby and I, and we ordered off the sushi menu. We had the New York roll ($11.95) and the tempura shrimp roll ($7.95). They were both very good. I was impressed with the quality of the fish, and the quality of the rolls. They were straightforward, but not so plain that they were boring. The shrimp tempura roll was the fried shrimp and avocado inside, and a drizzle of eel sauce and a dusting of sesame seeds on top. The eel sauce gave it the right moisture and a slightly sweet flavor and the shrimp the crunch I like. The New York roll was tuna and avocado inside and tuna on top (I also asked them to put a little tempura bits on it, which they put on top). It was very good as well. The fish was fresh and cut exactly to the right thickness and the rolls were bite-sized. We were both quite pleased. They weren’t overly complicated but well done.
Shortly after, we decided we needed to go back and try some of the non-sushi items and see how they were. We took the kids one day for lunch. We started with a tempura California roll ($7.50) (ok, not all non-sushi) which is your basic California roll (crab, cucumber and avocado inside) but the whole roll was then tempura fried. It was after eating this fried roll that I have come to the conclusion that I do not like deep fried rolls. I always think it might be good thing because I do like a bit of crunch in my rolls, but this is just too much. For me, all you can taste is the crust—you can no longer taste all the ingredients inside. And I think they did a good job with them. If you like California rolls, a regular non-fried one might be a worthwhile option.
I ordered the California grilled chicken sandwich ($8.99). In words, and in theory, and mostly in actuality, I liked the sandwich. It had a ton of stuff going on though. There was the chicken which was marinated and had a distinct char grilled taste, and there was guacamole, greens tossed in vinaigrette, tomato, blue cheese, bacon, mayo and Dijon mustard. It was served on heavily toasted sliced white bread. I appreciated that the lettuce was dressed and tangy, and the guac was pretty good. The tomato had to be immediately removed due to its white color tinge. The blue cheese was plentiful as was the mustard—there were large mustard seeds evident. A lot of strong flavors in generous portions. Overall I was good with it because I really like all the flavors. The chicken, however, was pretty darn dry and overcooked which kind of blew it, although if it had been tender I would have really enjoyed this extremely messy sandwich. I got tater tots because they sounded good and they were (and I was glad because the fries were crinkle fries which I almost never like). Everyone in my family wanted my tots.
Hubby had the small Tavern burger ($7.49) (their burgers come in 2 sizes, small and regular, which I appreciate). This burger is topped with grilled onions, pepper jack cheese and remoulade. This one was a miss. The burger was tough and way overcooked. It really wasn’t worth eating and hubby pretty much just shared my sandwich.
My daughter had the mini cheeseburgers ($4.99) which pretty much suffered the same fate as hubby’s although she isn’t as picky about it. She ate one of the two though and was done. My son had their mac and cheese ($3.99) and didn’t like it. But he is kind of weird about his mac and cheese. This one didn’t have a ton of flavor though. He ended up eating the other one of my daughter’s mini cheeseburgers.
So Drake’s is the latest of several very similar restaurants opening in the same location on 82nd Street. A sports bar with TVs, a large menu, working toward attracting a younger crowd I think (and I am not talking about my kids). You can pretty much guarantee the older people are going to be turned off by nearly every table basically being a bar stool or a high wooden bench. (My parents are scheming about bringing in a couple of stadium chairs so they can enjoy their favorite crab Rangoon roll with a back on their seats). I think there are 2 chairs in the whole place that have a back and they are in front of the fireplace. Maybe that’s the point, keep the old people out by making the seating hideously uncomfortable. As for service, both our servers seemed quite indifferent to the whole idea of waiting on people and seemed a little bored to be there. To be fair, there were a few enthusiastic people working in there, thank goodness, or we never would have gotten refills on our drinks (which for some reason are JAM PACKED with ice).
Overall, if you are going to eat here, I would recommend the sushi. They have a separate little sushi kitchen and they do a good job. My guess is that at some point we will return. I liked the big garage doors in the front—it could be fun on a nice day. And there were a lot of people in there watching basketball on the afternoon we went with the kids, so I think that watching sports here is a big draw as well. Too bad about the chairs though. They make hubby cranky.
3740 E. 82nd Street