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The Arden review

Tuna two ways is a well-fashioned duo of

Tuna two ways is a well-fashioned duo of sashimi and tartare at The Arden in Port Jefferson. Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

The Arden is situated above Starbucks. Maybe caffeine does drift upward.

You've attended sudden-death sporting events quieter than a night here. But that amped-up sound must be part of the new establishment's appeal. Or it could be that the spirits of the departed Original Elk Hotel are very restless.

Enter at street level, passing a velvet rope line, and climb a seasonally decorated stairway to reach the "ultra lounge" for "vibe dining." The bar acts as focal point and room divider. Tables line the rim of what will morph into a dance floor, as well as the area on the other side of beverage central.

And The Arden's kitchen specializes in entertainment, plus fare that's complemented by a drink or five, from small plates to large.

Duck tacos are respectable, with an Asian-style slaw. Little burritos packed with cod, lettuce, tomato, rice and ancho-chile flavored aioli, are husky and all right with a beer. The lobster bruschetta, however, defines travesty. It's served with "wanton chips," a typo that overstates the lustiness.

You're better off with the tender, root-beer braised short ribs; and the trio of sliders, which takes in a Waygu beef burger, Buffalo-style chicken and Taylor ham and cheese. The Buffalo-style chicken wings are meaty, though sauced mildly even when ordered spicy. The "atomic shrimp," neither molecular nor nuclear, is lifted by Gorgonzola cream.

Flatbreads arrive on a board that resembles an unwieldy cricket bat, challenging the staff and the size of your table. But they're fine. The fig-and-goat cheese number with caramelized onions stands out. From the sushi selection comes a well-fashioned duo of tuna sashimi and tuna tartare.

The largest of large plates: the bone-in, 40-ounce Tomahawk rib-eye steak -- a chewy, charbroiled, $49 disappointment. Fish-and-chips is a modest improvement. Grilled BBQ swordfish arrives sliced perilously thin and overcooked.

Two regular desserts, cheesecake and rice pudding, are skippable. But at that street-level Starbucks, you may find an old-fashioned glazed doughnut or an iced lemon cheesecake to accompany your cinnamon dolce latte or espresso con panna.

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