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O's Food & Wine Bar

Sauteed baby calamari is served with piquillo peppers,

Sauteed baby calamari is served with piquillo peppers, garlic, and olives at O's Food & Wine Bar in St. James. (September 25, 2009) Photo Credit: /John Griffin

The future is here: smaller portions, fewer dollars, bigger flavors, more variety. O's gets A's for each.

Chef-owner Philippe Corbet has transformed Oscar's of St. James into O's Food & Wine Bar, where the main attraction is tapas, international variety. Tapas are those savory little appetizers found across Spain, usually in the company of sherry or another suitable drink.

Corbet has expanded the definition, adding other cuisines, updating the style. And the result is very good. The restaurant itself has become streamlined, instantly accessible. The stuffing and stuffiness are gone. The staff stays attentive and accommodating. Go with a group.

THE BEST

Corbet keeps a few traditional main dishes. But the highlight at O's is nibbling your way through the ever-changing tapas list. Maybe the roasted red-and-yellow beet napoleon, layered with Danish blue cheese, or the watermelon-and-feta salad, finished with tomato confit; the smoked, pulled-beef quesadillas backed by Cheddar-avocado mousse or the Old World meatballs with modern goat-cheese risotto. You'll also enjoy a savory, mini-moussaka, made with beef; merguez, the spicy lamb sausage, wrapped in chips; and a clever, mini-grilled cheese sandwich trio, boosted with tomato confit and basil.

Fried, smoked calamari arrives with a Thai-seasoned version of barbecue sauce; a bison tostada, with chunky guacamole. His juicy New York strip steak sliders are energized by a blue-cheese boost and crisp-shallot company. Tender barbecued baby back ribs need nothing. Well, maybe an order of the hand-cut fries seasoned with Parmesan cheese and white-truffle oil. The better large plates: grilled swordfish, shining with a chimichurri-spurred vinaigrette; and pan-roasted filet mignon, with wild mushrooms.

Lemon tart is the minimalist's dessert; "caramel lover boombastic," with ice cream, spiced and crushed nuts, and chocolate fudge, is not. Ice cream and sorbets for all.

THE REST

Dry scallop-crusted salmon, truffled-risotto "lollipops," and beef short ribs a la bourguignonne; limp apple beignets; dull chocolate fondue.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Fall festival.

O's Food & Wine Bar is located at  52 N. Country Rd., St. James. Phone: 631-584-4600

 

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