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Applewood-smoked bacon, farmhouse Cheddar, lettuce, tomato and frites

Applewood-smoked bacon, farmhouse Cheddar, lettuce, tomato and frites top the "5-Napkin Burger" on the menu at Jewel restaurant in Melville. (Jan. 31, 2012) Credit: Doug Young

Glittery Jewel stands out for size, setting and star chefs. It's the latest theatrical production under the byline of Long Island's roving restaurateur, Tom Schaudel.

Schaudel and co-chef Michael Ross lead a brigade in the open kitchen of this first-floor panorama, which anchors Rubie Corporate Plaza.

Rubie is known for its major costume company. Jewel's flamboyant outfit is impossible to ignore.

In scope, this is the most ambitious undertaking by Schaudel, who gets attention the way a beach attracts waves. His current eateries include CoolFish in Syosset, A Mano in Mattituck and A Lure in Southold. Ross formerly cooked with Schaudel at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport. He's a veteran of departed Fiddleheads in Oyster Bay and Bel Posto in Huntington.

Their current showcase seats almost 250 in a fun house of swirling wood, much marble, upside-down lamps above the lounge, colorful bubbles floating over the dining room, a tiled namesake waterfall at the bar, and quotations from sources as varied as Julia Child and Tommy Smothers announcing the kitchen.

Jewel already is a lunch destination, one not entirely devoted to protein and testosterone. On weekends, it's high-decibel party time. The food, however, is comfortably New American, fueled with local wines and produce, plus countless Schaudelfreude imprints.

Enjoy the "5 Napkin Burger," bacon-Cheddar edition, a steak knife rising from it like Excalibur. "BLT&T" successfully adds sushi-red seared tuna to the standard. Excellent steaks and satisfactory individual pizzas are available at dinner, too.

But duck "in a jar" suggests a variation on chicken salad. Tender octopus: aggressively vinegared. "Bacon and eggs," with braised pork belly and a poached egg, arrives mired in dense Asian "spiced jus."

Butter-poached lobster; pork, cider-braised via Jericho Cider Mill; and lamb with a za'atar spice rub are recommended. Likewise, the opener of tuna tartare and main course of tuna with Thai red curry. Crabmeat, with passionfruit coulis and an avocado crown, deserves its status as a special. Overcooked prime rib, with Yorkshire pudding akin to a dried popover, doesn't.

Skip the "Jewel Box" rendition of the "Kitchen Sink," a dull sundae, even with special-effects smoke. You'll be nostalgic for Schaudel's "chocolate bag" -- and for Jahn's.

The pistachio ice-cream sandwich works. So does Jewel. But it needs more polishing to sparkle.


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