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Jewel in Melville: lackluster lunch

Diners linger over lunch at Jewel, a new

Diners linger over lunch at Jewel, a new restaurant in Melville with Tom Schaudel and Michael Ross in the kitchen. (Jan. 31, 2012) Credit: Doug Young

Jewel, we need to take a break.

That first time we met, the night you opened, I had a lovely dinner — your darling “duck in a jar” rillettes and an octopus salad. A few weeks later, at lunch, I began to see the cracks in our relationship — you served me slightly browned frisee, tough pork belly, a show-offy pizza that made no sense.

But the thing is, you’re so good-looking. And you’re so darn convenient, one of only a handful of proper restaurants close to my office. Your staff is unfailingly friendly and courteous. Why can’t your food be more consistent?

At lunch Wednesday my tuna crudo came topped with smudges of olive tapenade and an orange paste that one waiter described as ginger puree, another as tomato jam. Whichever it was, it did nothing but obscure the very fresh tuna; a dab of tapenade was all the poor fish wanted. A special of soft-shell crab was described as pan fried. Which I took to mean pan fried. What turned up was a crab whose bulk had been doubled (at least) by batter before being deep fried into bready oblivion. You said the carrots were local. OK, but they were also tasteless. The sunchokes were oversalted, and had been smashed with so much extraneous butter and/or cream and/or oil that they no longer qualified as a vegetable.

Then again, nearly every table at lunch was filled. Jewel, is it me?

Jewel is at 400 Broadhollow Rd., Melville, 631-755-5777.

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