In a sign of the berry-stained times, one of Long Island's most atmospheric wine bars — implausibly inside the Smith Haven Mall — has been replaced by an acai bowl and mac-and-cheese spot. A Brazilian steakhouse chain is set to debut next year elsewhere in the shopping center.
Le Vin Wine Bar, Tapas and Coffee, which operated from a cozy corner spot in the mall for two years, is no more, according to owner Christophe Lhopitault. In October, it was replaced by Bowl'd Acai, a fast-casual eatery that also sells salads and built-to-order mac-and-cheese. The Lake Grove location of Bowl'd, which has counter service and about 20 seats, is owned by Ken Mehta, and joins a invading army of such places on Long Island.
When it opened in 2016, Le Vin was ambitious and almost utopian in concept: A bistro-like wine bar with French small plates inside a shopping mall, and one run by chef Guy Reuge of Restaurant Mirabelle, and Lhopitault, who also owns Lake Side Emotions Wine Boutique in Stony Brook.
Reuge eventually left the project, and Lhopitault, a native of the Savoie region of France, was both running his wine shop and cooking Le Vin's food; the chalkboard menu listed things such as escargot, raclette and salumi boards (with jamón ibérico), and the spot had 36 wines by the glass as well as live music.
Lhopitault now concentrates solely on his wine shop, and cited consistent staffing challenges as a reason for the closure.
Bowl'd has a menu rooted in acai bowls ($7 to $15) with the requisite accouterments, from hemp seeds to honey. Salads ($8 to $12) range from straightforward Caesar to a spiced pesto Parm bowl with spinach, roasted chicken, quinoa, and a riot of vegetables; elbow mac-and-cheese ($10 to $12) can be topped in myriad ways, such as with multiple cheeses (including a house white cheddar), barbecued chicken, crispy onions and triple chili-pepper ranch sauce.
Find Bowl'd near the mall's food court, or (from the outside) just to the right of Bobby's Burger Palace; its hours match those of the mall, and the number is 631-954-3495.
Sometime in 2019, a location of the churrasco-style steakhouse chain Texas de Brazil will open in the mall's main building, though a mall spokeswoman did not know the exact date. The chain focuses on skewered, slow-roasted meats sliced tableside, and its signature drink is the Caipirinha. Currently, the closest location is in Yonkers.