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The Savoy Tavern in Merrick: First bites

Warm croissant bread pudding is served at The

Warm croissant bread pudding is served at The Savoy Tavern in Merrick, in May 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Peter M. Gianotti

This is the second round of first bites at The Savoy Tavern in Merrick.

But under executive chef Kevin Liebov, who starred at the now-gone Nicholas James Bistro in Merrick, it's a new restaurant.

Savoy looked good from day one, with its handsome bar, polished wood, and images from The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. But the food was erratic.

Now, try Liebov's pan-seared soft-shell crabs, in citrus-butter sauce with capers; or his pan-seared yellowfin tuna with soba noodles, and the improvements are clear. An appetizer of braised pork belly with caramelized shallot and grilled pineapple; and a warm-croissant bread pudding dessert underscore the changes, too.

The beer list is very good, the mood friendly, and the service attentive. Liebov makes you want to return.

The Savoy Tavern, 16 Merrick Ave., Merrick; 516-506-7717.

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