Take all-American steak and sides. Sprinkle in some colorful entrees that hit on poultry, chops and whole fish. Add a helping of far-out sushi roll creations ample enough to level Martha Rae. Present a gazillion bottle wine list highlighting steakhouse cabs and sakes with some playfully named cocktail creations. Finally, add a sexy atmosphere and lively bar and lounge scene with blaring music and BA-BAM!!! Now you’ve got the modern-day steakhouse…or sushi and steakhouse…or Thursday night mea(e)t-market…or glorified venue for refurbished surf and turf. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a successful formula for merging the old favorites of steak and seafood in a trendy new fashion.
I suppose I’m still spring-boarding off my recent blog post on New American cuisine. Long Island restaurateurs continue to blur the culinary lines and merge cultures with these latest land and sea venues, a favorite theme of the Scotto Brothers, who currently dominate the steak-and-sushi market with Blackstone in Melville, Rare650 in Syosset and now Insignia in Smithtown. I recently reviewed it in Woodbury Magazine and the meal was certainly worth the drive. North Shore-ites can find a similar vibe, menu and array of Thursday-night mea(e)t-heads in Nassau County with Blackstone and Rare. Just know this before you go: chopsticks are no match against their super-sized specialty rolls!
There are a lot of options for New American cuisine on Long Island; the three-month old Jewel in Melville being one. The place is stunningly beautiful, but does the food measure up? Chefs Tom Schaudel, Michael Ross and Dave Glatzerman have put together a highly creative menu that covers all the bases, utilizing local ingredients whenever possible. Using the guitar analogy discussed in the post below, I’d compare their style to a smokin’ Fender Stratocaster. There’s substance here, not air guitar, capisce?
But enough with New American banter and guitar analogies. Let’s tawk food! For lunch, I ordered the salmon salad with Satur Farm’s Bibb lettuce, preserved tomato, black olives, capers and California EVO – a tasty and light, yet filling option for the health conscious. My only gripe was that the ample piece of hot fish laid atop the cool salad – the fish temperature un-crisped the lettuce. A remedy would be to put it off to the side.
I also tried a divine scallop special with asparagus spears and rice medley. The scallops were perfectly seared, plump, sweet and medium rare. The veggies and rice had perfect bite. My lunch buddy enjoyed a BLT&T, an inspired twist on an old favorite, comprised of thick applewood bacon and rare seared tuna on hearty bread smeared with herbed mayo and served with frites and vibrant house-made ketchup. I seagulled his plate even though my entrée was enough…the sandwich was darned tasty and the fries crisp and light. Other playful lunch choices include the “Five Napkin Burger,” “Almost Caesar,” “Bacon and Eggs” and “Duck in a Jar,” prompting corporate lunch-goers to loosen their ties a bit.
For dinner, I enjoyed an 8 oz. filet mignon at $39, which sliced and tasted like buttaahhh. Its manageable size made it a good choice for a demure chick like me (cough). The meat was cooked exactly as ordered, medium rare. I also tried the brick pressed petite hen with maple-almond glaze, braised winter greens and roasted red potatoes. It was quite tender, moist and tasty, but a major pain-in-the-patoot to eat. Getting all the meat off such a tiny bird tests my patience – it’s already thin when I’m hungry. Grrrrr.
Ala carte sides, listed on the menu as “A Little Market Veggie Sumpum’ Sumpum’” ranges in price from $8-$9 each. We tried the brussels sprouts, which slightly charred and smoky with chorizo and red onion. I spied some bacon in there, too, not mentioned on the menu description. Other side choices include SMASHED sunchokes and SMASHED North Fork potatoes. Sorry to continuously capitalize SMASHED, but much like the chefs I really enjoy that word. Perhaps it’s under the influence of the 300-plus bottle wine list? (Yes, it’s that big).
Jewel is great for a girl’s night out. Dress froofie with heels. A chic atmosphere, diverse snack menu, gem-themed cocktails and ample wines by the glass are appealing. So are the vast cheese selections on display in the main dining room. My group of hens enjoyed some light and lovely Sancerre with a selection of 3 cheeses for $16 served with honey: Ubriacone Select from Italy, bathed in Clinton and Raboso wine and covered with grape leaves; Goat Cheddar from Pennsylvania, creamy white, smooth yet robust and cave-aged for six months; and Artisan Raw Milk Manchego from Spain, aged over one year with nutty caramel flavors. The bartender worked a little magic with the olive oil, adding crushed black and red pepper and some grated cheese. We had fun dredging the hearty bread through it.
We also ordered the tuna tartare with red ginger, chilies and soy from the snack menu at $14, which practically danced off the plate. Served in an attractively decorated lump, the multi-dimensional flavors worked in harmony with the tender pink fish with a bit of heat emanating from the chilies. Craving more carbs, we opted for personal-sized Catapano goat cheese pizza at $15, decked out with ample chunks of baked goat cheese, chewy red and yellow marinated tomatoes and olives. The crust was deceiving – it looked heavy, but was light and crisp throughout.
On to dessert. But first, I have a confession to make. I haven’t been feeling it at high-end restaurants lately. I have grand expectations and they always seem to be a big letdown. But I figured I’d have to put myself out there and take a chance…to hang on and have faith. So, we ordered a Catapano Farms goat cheesecake (big fan of the goat cheese) with pineapple confit and coconut brittle. I took a deep breath and tasted. My spoon sliced through the cool and creamy, sweet and tangy, pretty and just plain yummy confection. Before I realized, it vanished, gone forever. I sat there crestfallen, yet strangely uplifted…
Miss Ciao has gone off on a dessert tangent! Apologies, it happens sometimes. Anyway, I’m not sure it’s still on the menu, but if it appears and you’re a cheesecake fan, it’s a must have. And so is your New American dining experience at Jewel. Check it out soon!