For years, Tom Schaudel has been Long Island’s most attention-getting restaurateur. Tonight he opened a restaurant every bit as noteworthy. Big, bold and beautiful, Jewel practically sings and dances its way onto Route 110 in Melville.
A partnership between chef Schaudel and Mark Beige, a principal at Rubies Costume Co., Jewel sprawls over half the ground floor of the newly constructed Rubie Corporate Plaza. The open kitchen — where a platoon of cooks slings New American cuisine — is visible from almost every angle. There’s a vast marble bar whose neighboring lounge features a glass floor with flashing lights. The main dining room is on two levels and, next to the open kitchen, there’s a private “chef’s table” room that seats 10. Beyond the lounge is a formal dining room (the only one with tablecloths) and, beyond that, a cigar-and-Cognac room with a patio.
Gentlemen, I don’t want to spoil the surprise that awaits you in the men's room.
Schaudel said that the restaurant’s footprint dictated its design. “It’s basically a long rectangle,” he said. “We were worried about one area being perceived as ‘Siberia’ — not to mention how it was going to feel on a Monday night when there are 17 diners.” (The restaurant can seat 240.)
For all the glitz and glitter, the menu is rather homey, with as many local products as Schaudel and his co-chef, Michael Ross, can get their hands on: pork with potato-mushroom-apple hash ($26), short ribs braised in Blue Point ale ($30), pizza with Catapano goat cheese ($15).
I had the “duck in a jar” (no one writes menus like Schaudel), which turned out to be one little glass Mason jar full of wonderfully fatty duck rillettes, and another with house-pickled onion. All of this gets piled onto a split pretzel roll. I also enjoyed an octopus starter, a stunning (and generous) platter featuring octopus, red grapes, Kalamata olives, fingerling potatoes and red onion. Starters run $10 to $16.
Schaudel, a longtime student of kung fu, sees no contradiction between the restaurant’s over-the-top design its and down-to-earth menu. “It’s more of a yin yang,” he said. “I describe Jewel as Vegas in terms of the build-out, but it’s very much a Long Island restaurant — on Long Island, for Long Island, by Long Island.”
He’s particularly proud of the 300-bottle wine list, a third of which is made up of Long Island wines.
On opening night, Schaudel himself seemed a bit humbled by the surroundings. “This place cost millions,” he said. “Coolfish [the Syosset restaurant he opened in 2000] I think we did for $86.76.”
Jewel is at 400 Broadhollow Rd., Melville, 631-755-5777.