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Secrets of Flight reopens in Port Washington

Grilled octopus "a la plancha" atop shaved fennel,

Grilled octopus "a la plancha" atop shaved fennel, olives, and orange supremes at Secrets of Flight in Port Washington. Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Four months after he called it quits, chef-owner Aleksander Betko has resurrected his Port Washington bistro, Secrets of Flight. The new, improved Secrets, which opens for business today, has expanded hours, a new reservation policy and slightly lower prices.

It’s been a whirlwind for Betko, who opened the restaurant in December, scored three stars from Newsday in March and closed in May. “We got this great review, and then a few weeks later I was looking at empty tables during the week,” he said. “So I decided to sell the place and move on.”

But when no offers materialized, “I did some serious soul searching and tried to figure out what went wrong.”

Most of Betko’s previous experience had been in New York City (at such vaunted venues as Balthazar and Boqueria Spanish Tapas) and he realized he hadn’t fully embraced what running a suburban restaurant entailed. “In the city,” he said, “diners accommodate the restaurant; here the restaurant must accommodate the diners. And most people do not eat out during the week. On Fridays and Saturdays, everyone wants that 7 p.m. reservation and very few people dine late, which means you can’t turn the tables twice.”

But he also began to see some opportunities. While weeknight dinner would never be a moneymaker, he noted that “there’s a massive void in Port Washington for breakfast, lunch and brunch.” As he sat in the shuttered store plotting his future, “regular customers came out of the woodwork, encouraging me to reopen. That was a massive motivator.”

And so, he relaunched Secrets of Flight as an all-day cafe serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day but Monday. Reservations will only be taken for groups of six or more. Much of the old dinner menu remains intact (octopus a la plancha, country paté, roast chicken, spicy sausage rigatoni, heritage pork chop) but the prices are a bit less ($10 to $16 for starters, $18 to $28 for mains) and there’s a brand-new burger made with house-ground grass-fed beef and served with hand-cut fries ($16).

Some dinner items are served at lunch, along with a chicken club sandwich with avocado, bacon and aioli ($12), soft-shell crab sandwich with pickled tomato and gem lettuce ($16) and a classic Nicoise salad ($20).

Breakfast offerings include breads and muffins baked in house ($3), steel-cut oats with fruits and nuts ($6), organic eggs with sausage or bacon ($8), and shakshuka (eggs poached in spicy tomato stew, $12). All washed down with java from Hampton Coffee Company.

Secrets of Flight is at 170 Main St., Port Washington, 516-883-1863.

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