Doma Land + Sea
490 Chestnut St., Cedarhurst
SERVICE: Very attentive
AMBIENCE: Stylish rustic-industrial-modern mix
ESSENTIALS: Open Monday to Wednesday, 5 to 11 p.m.; Thursday, 5 to midnight; Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.. Closed Friday. Reservations recommended. Major credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible.
Put away preconceptions. Dismiss doubts. Forgo forejudgment. Doma Land + Sea arrives as a vibrant, inviting, excellent restaurant that’s easily one of the year’s best.
And it happens to be kosher.
Owners Boris and Edward Safaniev also operate Cork & Slice, a kosher Italian spot nearby. Here, they’ve created a decidedly ambitious and definitely expensive establishment that sports a handsome design, striking artwork, and food that often combines both.
The name stems from Latin and Russian, suggesting a dwelling or a house. The layout follows the theme, as you enter a bar-and-kitchen area, with space devoted to a display of the day’s fresh fish and dry-aged beef, as well as some lively cocktails. There’s also a room for special events, plus outdoor seating.
Edison light bulbs, countrified woodwork and vivid portraits of Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon and Muhammad Ali, among others, decorate the place. Executive chef Oscar Martinez, formerly of The Butcher’s Bar and Grill, or The BBG, in Williston Park, mans the 81-inch Grillworks wood-burning grill and oversees all.
But consider the meaty, Southern-fried chicken drumettes with sweet-sour sauce; and the braised, smoky barbacoa beef brisket tacos, each balanced on a French fry. And, of course, share “The Big Dog,” a ridiculously good, foot-long beef frank topped with chili, hot peppers and onions. After all, it’s an appetizer.
Refresh yourself with the “painter’s plate,” an artfully arranged yellowfin tuna tartare, with mango relish and taro chips. Nibble on Nantucket sliders, or fried mahi mahi boosted by spicy tahini aioli. Split either the salad of roasted beets, mache, avocado and haricots verts; or the “chop chop,” a mountain of romaine, red cabbage, snow peas, roasted almonds and roasted chicken.
You can skip the bland, crunch-free tempura of Chilean sea bass in favor of sushi. The traditional nigirizushi is fine; familiar handrolls, respectable; and “specialty rolls” such as tuna-black truffle and spicy-grill salmon, showy and flavorful.
Two satisfying catches are the crisp and snowy whole fried red snapper, which appears positioned as if in mid-swim, and the mild, light, whole, wild black sea bass.
Chef Martinez really gets going with a 42-ounce “Tomahawk chop,” a tennis racket of rib-eye for two, sliced off the XL bone. Juicy and flavor-packed, at $120, it better be. The 16-ounce, chile-rubbed Delmonico steak competes with tenderness and very beefy flavor at $55. Coming in at $32 is the house burger, a delicious high-rise with caramelized onions, chipotle ketchup and garlicky aioli.
Less appealing: the dull, hacked Cornish hen, with fingerling potatoes; and the over-herbed, over-salted pappardelle alla Bolognese.
Desserts embody the flair of the overall look. The cotton candy tower must hover a yard high — a strawberry cloud showstopper. The Doma cinnamon-sugar doughnuts, set for a dip in a pomegranate coulis, are even better.
Special visual effects continue with the delicate caramel dome that’s like a cloche of sugar threads protecting the apple “tortada.” The blackout cake won’t evoke memories of the Ebinger’s classic, but it’s a generous wedge.