The serapes that hung on the stucco walls of Don Ricardo’s in Babylon have been succeeded by abstract paintings, the tortilla chips by such bar snacks as roasted shishito peppers with wasabi oil and fish crudo. There’s no mistaking that the venerable Mexican-Spanish restaurant, operated by Ricardo and Monica Benavides from 1989 until this past June, has been given a New American overhaul, emerging last week as Culture Fine Food & Cocktails.
Chef Well Brauner said that he and his partner, Patrick Mack, were drawn to Babylon because “it’s such a foodie town.” The chef, who formerly ran kitchens at Sagamore Yacht Club in Oyster Bay and Hamlet Golf Club in Commack, put together a wide-ranging menu that draws from all over the world.
Starters ($7 to $14) include French onion soup, Mexican street-corn fries, venison street tacos with cherry relish and goat cheese, chicken-larb lettuce wraps, raw clams and oysters and a daily crudo. Sandwiches ($15 to 17) include a pickle-brined fried-chicken sandwich with cabbage slaw and Dijon aioli and a surf-and-turf burger on a hollowed-out pretzel bun filled with shrimp-brandy-Boursin Alfredo sauce and tomato. Mains ($24 to $35) include a stuffed Tuscan chicken breast with pancetta, mozzarella, kale and saffron-Marsala-mushroom risotto and a bacon-wrapped blue-cheese-crusted filet mignon with garlic-Parmesan mash and roasted Brussels sprouts. Add shrimp to any main for $7.
Craft cocktails, beers on tap and in bottles and cans and a mostly American wine list are also available.
The new owners have muted Don Ricardo’s exuberant south-of-the-border décor with modernist canvasses and gray paint over the stucco and, but the two-story building still retains its Olde Mexico soundstage vibe. From the main floor (bar, lounge, dining room), you can still ascend the stairs to a second-floor dining room whose skylight reveals the heavens over Babylon.
Culture Fine Food & Cocktails, 94 E. Main St., Babyon, 631-314-4777