Steak frites au poivre at The James in Babylon.

Steak frites au poivre at The James in Babylon. Credit: Newsday/Marie Elena Martinez

“Would you like a caviar bump?” whispered restaurateur Steven Squitiro, a dashing figure in a purple tailored suit, extending a tin of Kaluga caviar at the bar during an opening week visit to The James in Babylon. The pearly, army-green beads are piled onto a fisted hand, in the space between the thumb and the wrist. After a herbaceous sip of vodka infused with dill and fennel, you lick the $28 amuse-bouche off your hand.

Imagine the attention this ritual elicits from fellow diners.

A caviar "bump" paired with a side of herb-infused vodka...

A caviar "bump" paired with a side of herb-infused vodka at The James in Babylon. Credit: Newsday/Marie Elena Martinez

This level of swank sets a standard for what's in store at The James, which opened after a complete overhaul of the historic Babylon Carriage House restaurant that closed in 2023 after nearly 20 years in the heart of the village. It's the second act in less than two years from Squitiro and partner Andrew Affa, who opened the Arlo Kitchen and Bar in Northport in 2022 with flaming baked Alaska on carts, table side Tomahawk carvings, a grand upstairs piano bar, magnificent Art Deco flourishes. The James delivers similar flair — fine dining with a little bit of theater. There's a sweeping entry staircase, a massive brasserie-style bar, head-turning artwork, teetering seafood towers, iconic throwback dishes like lobster Thermidor ($65) and beef Wellington ($60) — although the space feels more like Arlo's sassier, sexier little sister.

The James, which replaces Babylon Carriage House, in Babylon.

The James, which replaces Babylon Carriage House, in Babylon. Credit: Newsday/Marie Elena Martinez

The renovation, complete with a semi-open kitchen and expansive outdoor patio space took just over “one and a half years,” Squitiro said.

The kitchen is helmed by Arlo’s Walter Huezos and features a raw bar, fresh pastas like paccheri with short rib ragu ($38) and fusilli with mushrooms ($34), plus wild-caught seafood and dry-aged steaks. There's a beautifully cooked duck ($42), but if you feel like being unfussy, the bar offers a great perch to settle in for a burger ($26) and a martini.

And about that bump: “We were playing around with caviar app specials,” Squitiro said. “We first saw ‘the bump’ in Manhattan and thought it was a great way to introduce caviar to guests.” Looking around the bar, it’s being received well, indeed.

The James, 21 Fire Island Ave., Babylon, 975-2637, thejamesli.com; Open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m.

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