214 Jericho Tpke., New Hyde Park
SERVICE Welcoming and unpretentious
AMBIENCE Busy bar, sedate dining rooms, reined-in style
ESSENTIALS Open Thursday to Saturday and Monday 4 to 11 p.m., Sunday 3 to 10 p.m. Closed Tuesday; weekend reservations suggested, major credit cards accepted, steps at restaurant entrance, ramp parking-lot side.
The New Hyde Park Inn hosts weddings and anniversary celebrations, holiday events and corporate affairs, whatever is next on the calendar.
Now, it finally houses a pretty good restaurant.
Table 7 opens warm and friendly, ready for either Eleanor Rigby’s surprise shower or Mack the Knife’s bachelor party. They’d both be met with smiles. So will you.
The staff is among the reasons to like this multiroom restaurant, situated at the east end of the inn. You enter via the eatery’s own entrance, or cross the marble floor of a paneled gathering room that evokes a stage-set Gold Coast library, minus most of the books.
Then, make a quick right and left to reach Table 7, without interrupting a Sweet 16 or a happy retirement along the way.
Once in, there’s a well-designed bar, with the TV tuned to sports; a cozy, exposed-brick area that has a summery feel; and a fancier one colored in soft grayish hues, a comfortable banquette with a circa ’80s black-and-white design and enough faux greenery to suggest the decade before it.
For more contemporary touches, look to chef Mark Dara’s mostly appetizing menu, which allows you to forget the faded continental cuisine of years past, and the husky German cooking of the Rueck family that for more than 40 years defined the address.
So, order a Margarita, even though the tequila is pineapple-infused; or the Lucky 7, fueled by Hendrick’s Gin; and the Jericho, boosted by Angel’s Envy Bourbon.
Sufficiently hydrated, try the deviled eggs, billed with pancetta but sparked by a ringlet of pickled jalapeño pepper on each half. You can go through plenty of these in a hurry. Table 7 knows bar food. The meaty chicken wings, ordered spicy, do restrain the BTUs, but go easily with a pint of Oyster Bay Barn Rocker or Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner.
Dara sends out fine fried calamari. A lot of squid meet their destiny here, signing off with a wasabi drizzle and scattered sesame seeds. Tuna tartare arrives as a tasty, squat tricolor turret, with layers of creamy avocado and unripe mango, plus ponzu sauce and modestly spiced mayonnaise.
There’s a curiosity among the openers. It’s the spring roll, packed with what you’d likely find in an updated Philly cheesesteak, ready to be dipped in an IPA sauce. Resist the temptation.
And skip both the overorchestrated Tuscan kale salad, a production highlighted by pink grapefruit; and the overwrought, grilled romaine effort, which can’t be saved by shaved fennel and Parmesan cheese.
Dara excels with his crunchy, moist chicken and waffles, completed with a timid maple-pecan glaze and candied carrots. It’s equaled by a juicy strip steak and the right-temperature veal porterhouse.
The “Raging Bull” burger on brioche weighs in with Cheddar, bacon, a sunny-side up egg, and a missed hook of pulled pork. But you can see DeNiro’s Jake LaMotta downing one before facing Johnny Barnes’ Sugar Ray in Scorsese’s classic.
Compared with this, the pappardelle tossed with shrimp in white wine sauce would be classed light flyweight. Tepid as a talk show with no guests, it needs a little punch.
Desserts definitely do. They’re listed under the title “The 7 Deadly Sins.” Gluttony and lust must have been scorned. A trio of milkshakes comes across so bland that you’ll leave envying anyone who’s drinking a malted somewhere.
Almost as dull: the mascarpone-stuffed, poached pear, with a center column of dense cream cheese mimicking slowly setting cement. Maple-walnut crème brûlée — no, especially so with what’s dubbed pistachio chutney and pickled blueberries.
Continuing the theme: the “cast iron” not-that-warm chocolate chip cookie in a pan, which will lead you directly and exclusively to the vanilla ice cream; and “death by chocolate,” a fatally flawed finale, dry except for a lingonberry drizzle.
Maybe there’s a Venetian hour under way nearby.