A busy year, 1789: The Constitution went into effect, the Society of St. Tammany was founded, and the original homestead that became The Maine Maid Inn was built.

It took more than two centuries, but the food definitely has improved.

Payal and Rajiv Sharma, who operate Sitar, the reliable Indian restaurant inHuntington, took over The Maine Maid a year ago. Conditions were, well, less than optimum. Short of demolition, their transformation of the joint is dramatic.

That doesn't mean 1789 Restaurant at The Maine Maid immediately ranks among Long Island's top spots. But for the first time in decades, there's considerable potential. The upgraded Maine Maid is a combo of this old house and this new kitchen.

The look still stresses Colonial, but there's some restraint. No musket sightings recently. And those wide plank floors have a well-established patina. The formal dining rooms have a polite neutrality, suitable for any catered event. The bar and its nearby tables deliver more flavor.

So does the earnest chef, Santos Reyes.

His tasty "wok-fired calamari" gets a sweet-sour glaze; the crab cake, "tropical salsa mango aioli." Shrimp-two-ways, fire-roasted and cocktail, are updated with a tamarind glaze and avocado aioli.

But the spinach-and-artichoke dip is basically bar chow. And the "southwestern spring rolls" are limp, filled with corn and black beans. Baked clams oreganata are standard; the fritto misto of shrimp, squid and vegetables, subpar.

Your meal brightens with the Asian pear salad, with goat cheese; the mild, Gruyere-capped onion soup; and the lightened-up version of lobster bisque.

Rack of lamb and filet mig– non are respectable main courses, tender and rosy. But the flatiron steak, an increasingly popular cut here served with toasted peppercorn cream and horseradish-spiked mashed potatoes, is on the chewy side.

Grilled prawns, with mango-carrot slaw, sun-dried tomato risotto and rice noodles, head the seafood. Also good is the sesame-crusted salmon, with ginger and teriyaki accents.

A crusted tuna with couscous, endive, fennel and red pepper salad, plus a Port reduction, is overly camouflaged, but it will do. The dull, wild-mushroom ravioli in tomato sauce won't.

Desserts offer few surprises. The crème brûlée is satisfactory, as are the sorbets. Bread pudding turns pasty, and chocolate-mousse cake has an industrial quality. Instead, nibble on the carrot cake.

The year 1789 also is remembered for Mrs. Alexander Hamilton serving ice cream in Washington. It's a good choice in Jericho, too.

Reviewed by Peter M. Gianotti, 3/2/08

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