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First bite: Ara in St. James

Ara International Grille & Bar lives up to its name. The restaurant is all over the map.

At the site that once housed Intermezzo, Ara takes you on a little tour. Peruvian scallops meet Canadian mussels, Italian sausage encounters Mediterranean branzino, wasabi and red ginger aioli share territory with lobster bisque and Cognac-mushroom sauce.

Early on, however, the eatery needs direction. It also could use some seasoning.

Those fried Peruvian scallops are so soft, a fork turns them to mush. Slow-roasted duckling could use some adrenalin: peel-away skin, dull flavor.  Espresso-rubbed, sliced pork filet is good, though the caramelized onions with it are better suited to a hot dog. Grilled pork chops are big and juicy. And roast corn-and-chicken chowder comes through on a cool evening. Limp apple strudel doesn't.

Ara is a relative of Bistro 107, also in St. James.

Ara International Grille & Bar, 964 Middle Country Rd., St. James; 631-656-6363.

It's a culinary U.N. at Ara.


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