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Four's new chef keeps the quality coming

Ben Durham, executive chef at Four Food Studio

Ben Durham, executive chef at Four Food Studio & Cocktail Salon in Melville. Credit: Handout

Four Food Studio & Cocktail Salon in Melville, named for the seasons of the year, is one of Long Island's trendiest food destinations. Seasonality is what drives its ever-changing menu, making it the place to go for the bright English peas of spring, the heirloom tomatoes of summer, the butternut squash of autumn, the root vegetables of winter.

Four has a relentlessly overheated scene where guests have to take in a sensory overload of merciless, monotonous sound and full-fashion, meet-market activity in the lounge area adjoining the dining room. On a Monday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, you’d be wise to eat before the DJ brings the sound level from uncomfortable to unbearable.

Even so, it's worth enduring the barrage to indulge in the New American cuisine of executive chef Ben Durham, who has taken over the kitchen from his mentor and predecessor, James McDevitt.

One way to get your table started is with flatbreads with such savory toppings as double-smoked bacon and sausage with roasted peppers. Or pass around Durham’s paean to spring: a verdant mélange of fresh fava beans and English peas, plated with a mix of ricotta, mascarpone, lemon and mint, to be spread on grilled bread. On a recent night, however, an appetizer of grilled baby octopus with white beans, fennel, tomato, tapenade, red onion, parsley pistou and lemon vinaigrette offered lots of flavor but little octopus.

Durham deftly incorporates seasonal vegetables into his dishes. A juicy, delectable pan-roasted chicken, skin-on and boned, partners with morels, spring onions and creamed spinach; roasted Maine lobster is plated with an English pea puree, sauteed English peas and baby turnips; Serrano ham adds salty notes that play well against a fruity Thai citrus emulsion.

The season is also celebrated in Durham's spring lamb ravioli with picholine olives, apricots, fresh ricotta and toasted pine nuts. There's Scottish salmon with Israeli couscous, cauliflower, golden raisins, Marcona almonds and a fig balsamic. You can also get a Kobe burger or prime New York strip steak.

A neatly pan-roasted black bass with baby artichokes, Yukon Gold potatoes and a black truffle puree is a sure bet for a main course, as is tender braised beef short rib with horseradish potato puree, braised onions and carrots.

One must be over 21 to partake of the piece de resistance finale: chocolate Guinness cake layered with caramel gelato and Bailey’s Irish cream foam in a sundae glass, the whole topped with freshly whipped cream. Warm beignets with three dipping sauces and creme brulee round out dessert selections. Or have a chocolate fondue party. The gratis cotton candy that follows is mere icing on the cake.

Four Food Studio & Cocktail Salon is at 515 Broadhollow Rd., Melville, 631-577-4444

Ben Durham, executive chef at Four Food Studio & Cocktail Salon in Melville

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