4802 US Highway 209
Accord, NY 12404
Friends and Family II
Read our reviews in the
April 10, 2005
Friends, family come together at new eatery
By Jonathan Ment, Freeman staff
ACCORD - He's cooked for heads of state and diplomats, entertainers and Wall Street executives. And in recent years, chef Salah Alygad has been cooking for everyone.
Alygad, along with business partners Denise McCarroll and her daughter, Brianne, opened the restaurant Friends & Family II Hillside in September in Accord.
The eatery takes its name from both a restaurant that Alygad opened years ago in New Jersey and the U.S. Route 209 property that the new business occupies. Most recently
Traficanti's, Denise McCarroll said "Hillside" has always been part of the name there and some guests still call it that. The interior has undergone major redecorating, and work has begun on the outside.
"WE'RE continental," said McCarroll, wearing jeans, a blazer and boots to greet a Thursday lunch crowd. "It's casual fine dining."
Alygad's previous private ventures included two New Jersey locations and the Freehold Country Inn in Greene County, where he and a fellow United Nations chef were part of the ownership team. That restaurant is the same size and offers essentially the same menu as Friends & Family II but is more formal and a bit more expensive.
"That's where the two of us met," McCarroll said. "I was a server."
"She's really good with people," Alygad said. "That's what I noticed, working with her for four years."
"He was ready for a change and asked me to come with him," McCarroll said.
Egyptian-born Alygad came to the United States 30 years ago and settled in New York in the 1970s. Years before he was a banquet chef for the U.N., he worked as a dishwasher.
"At the U.N., with special events for different countries, we would work side by side with chefs from different countries," he said. From these efforts came knowledge and inspiration.
Upscale pizza has remained on the menu at Friends & Family II, along with burgers, but it's the chef's unique selections that set the restaurant apart.
Alygad likes getting creative, as with his "Moroccan Cigars" (filo dough prepared with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and pine nuts) or "Chop Chop Salad" (fresh diced fruits and uncooked vegetables marinated in the house vinaigrette and served atop a spring salad mix with sweet walnuts, sugar and cayenne pepper). The salad is available as a vegetarian dish or with add-ons like grilled chicken or roasted shrimp or scallops.
"My food speaks for itself," said Alygad, who likes to indulge special requests made with enough notice to obtain the ingredients.
"We have a very regular clientele that come in every Friday night," McCarroll said. "They're working their way through the menu and on to the specials. They wait for us to come out of the kitchen after the rush."
"I love to see people happy. It's worth a million dollars," Alygad said. "This is my fun. This is what I live for. Everything comes from the heart."
Including Brianne McCarroll, there are 10 part-time employees at Friends & Family II, including longtime area bartender Mike Collins.
Friends & Family II Hillside is open for lunch and dinner every day but Tuesday, when it is available for private parties. Off-site catering also is available. Reservations are strongly recommended for Friday and Saturday nights.
İDaily Freeman 2005