If you have a hankering for "New American" cuisine, Finley's of Greene Street, whose menu runs the gamut from tavern fare to elegant entrées such as lobster and steak, is the place to go. You'll immediately be drawn into the romance of the past by the welcoming and colorful sign on the 'Publick House' depicting a bespectacled "Dr. Finley," sporting an old-time straw hat and holding a mug of frothy beer in his hand.
According to manager Ben Laiacona, Finley's opened in 1993 and the fanciful image plays homage to its owner, John Finley, a retired dentist and now restaurateur.
A breezeway links the Publick House to the quaint circa 1868 white picket-fenced residence that is used for formal dining.
We ate in the 'sunroom' with its lace-curtained windows and latticework. I was particularly taken by the charming overhead lamps reminiscent of 19th century 'gaslights.' Ornate tin ceilings and brick arches also capture the imagination.
I have to admit that I looked at the sumptuous dessert offerings prior to ordering, and made a mental note to leave room for the chocolate molten cake, with berry compote and homemade whipped cream.
The menu features a plethora of enticing appetizers, soups and salads, and I will keep the lobster quesadilla, steamed Pei mussels and pan-fried crab cake in mind for a future visit. You can make a meal out of their salads, some of which feature tuna, steak, shrimp or chicken. We decided on the cobb salad, a garden-fresh medley of romaine lettuce, avocado, bacon, tomatoes, and perfectly grilled sliced chicken breast, complimented by a generous serving of blue cheese.
Tavern fare, which you can enjoy while seated near the bar or in the formal dining area, is all about soul-satisfying comfort food, and according to Laiacona, "the Beefeater" sandwich, featuring sliced filet mignon and mozzarella cheese on a bed of garlic bread, is a stand-out. I was also tempted by the New England lobster roll and the "Old World" meatloaf.
The perennial bar favorite, fish and chips, showcases plump morsels of tender codfish cloaked in a crispy batter, accompanied by coleslaw and french fries. This is a fabulous dish which I think would benefit from being paired with more substantial fries, such as steak fries.
According to Laiacona, sought-after entrees include the braised short rib in a red wine demi glace and roasted duck a l'orange. I was very tempted by some of the pasta dishes, such as the linguini and clams, and the shrimp scampi.
The daily specials included grilled sirloin steak and shrimp, served on a pillow of mashed potatoes with asparagus. The portion of steak was very generous, tender and flavorful, and cooked to my exacting specifications.
Another special, which I can only imagine must be extremely popular, is the steamed lobster dinner. Whether you choose two 'one-pounders' or one 'two-pounder,' the lobsters are delicious and for $25, this tasty value can't be beat.
Finley's boasts an extraordinary assortment of desserts and I was told that the Irish whiskey bread pudding, topped with whipped cream and the apple crisp, served warm with vanilla gelato and whipped cream, are real crowd-pleasers. We enjoyed the rice pudding paired with cinnamon whipped cream and yes, the chocolate molten cake ,which announced its arrival with a luscious aroma, was pure heaven.
Appetizers range in price from $6.95 for the crispy kung pow calamari to $13.95 for the lobster quesadilla or the pan-fried crab cake. Tavern fare ranges from $8.95 for the BBQ pulled pork sandwich to $17.95 for that New England Lobster Roll. Entrées from the regular menu range from $11.95 for penne à la vodka to $24.95 for marinated skirt steak, sesame-crusted tuna or crabmeat stuffed shrimp. The desserts tip the scales at $8.
Finley's is open from Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. and Sunday until 9 p.m.
43 Greene St