7T8 EUROPEAN FUSION
78 Main St., Northport
SERVICE Very good
AMBIENCE: City chic
ESSENTIALS: Open Wednesday through Sunday 2 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday late night menu 9 p.m. to midnight; closed Monday and Tuesday; weekend reservations recommended; step at entrance; outdoor dining.
A textured, gray-and-black wall at 7T8 European Fusion curves like waves. The round window in the dining room resembles a deluxe porthole. Wood paneling gives way to shiny chic. And you immediately know this no longer is the Ship’s Inn.
In cool hues, except for prismatic images of John Lennon and Jim Morrison, 7T8 European Fusion sleekly sinks the old inn in style and content. Gone are the broiled seafood platter and the shrimp parmigiana, too. What’s new: a combination of cuisines, and a supper-club note. There’s also an intimate dining area in the alley adjacent to the restaurant.
7T8 European Fusion, unwieldy name and all reflecting a take on the address, adds a different look to the restaurants of Main Street, Northport. And executive chef Stephen Claussel brings together New American, continental, Italian and steakhouse dishes with some flair.
In the background, you’ll hear neither “Imagine” nor “Light My Fire.” It will be more like “Piano Man” and “Time to Say Goodbye.” Some movie themes drift in, too, from Pachelbel’s Canon in D, used memorably in “Ordinary People,” to Trevor Jones’ stirring score for “The Last of the Mohicans.” Consider the selections, well, eclectic.
After a few bites, you may be saying that about the food, too.
An assertive cut of charred, sugar-cured fatback bacon will be found under a thatch of respectable greens in a lemon vinaigrette. Pear, watermelon radish, apricot slaw and a coulis dress lobster confit, which would have been more pleasing had it not been confit. Risotto croquettes, or deep-fried rice balls with braised beef and cheese plus horseradish-whipped potatoes, veer toward the over-orchestrated; sautéed calamari, with peperoncino colliding with wine and butter, also reins in the excitement. Tempura-style asparagus fries arrive limp instead of crisp.
Better is the “toasted Caesar,” with charred hearts of romaine, crostini, grated grana and a solitary white anchovy. The spring salad displays a world of fruit, from mangoes and candied kumquats to blackberries, strawberries and dragon fruit. Walnuts and blue cheese garnish bib lettuce.
The kitchen sends out a tasty version of pappardelle Bolognese, with pork, beef and veal in the ragu. The Moroccan-spiced, Berkshire pork chop, served with roasted potatoes and glazed baby carrots, livens things up, too. Spaghetti and meatballs — a trio of veal, pork and beef — arrives with fresh mozzarella in a dressed-up version of a Sunday supper classic.
But skip the shrimp fra diavolo, which must have made a pact with fra angelico. The pan-seared wild salmon, announced as blackened, delivers more heat. There’s a tender, cooked-to-order filet mignon with marchand de vin, the concentrated red-wine sauce that makes a few appearances here. The competition comes from a bone-in strip steak and bone-in rib eye. Steak highlights a special of surf and turf, which adds an overdone, black-bottomed crabcake.
A sweet apple tart heads the familiar desserts, along with cinnamon-sugar doughnuts. They’re trailed by the so-so Frangelico crème brûlée and German chocolate cake.
And, yes, a rendition of “Stairway to Heaven.”