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Overcast 35° Good Afternoon

The Rosewood Inn


1148 Walt Whitman Rd. Melville, NY 11747-3006



$$$ (Expensive)


A neighborhood establishment that serves a mostly local crowd, this sturdy venue has been around ... More »

 Anytime a restaurant opens on the dining desert of Route 110, the question is whether it's a mirage or an oasis.
The Rosewood Inn finds middle ground amid the dunes. It doesn't quite quiver in the distance, and it's definitely a place to get a drink.

This had been Nickels North. The establishment has undergone an overhaul. In appearance, the dining room has an easygoing style, similar in some ways to a drafty lodge, with a period clock, and some windows on the snowy slopes of Walt Whitman Road. Consider the look suburbanized rustic.

The menu has an all-things-for-everyone quality, eclectic in the extreme. Foie gras agnolotti can appear in the vicinity of cheese quesadillas, the burger and jumbo chicken wings with lobster brandade galantine.

This ambitious and unwieldy undertaking generally results in a pretty good meal, in pleasant surroundings: an accomplishment. The staff seems short on experience, but the crew is earnest and energetic.

You'll do well with those chicken wings, even if the advertised blue cheese doesn't materialize. They're plump and well-spiced. The Cheddar and Jack cheese quesadillas are hefty, satisfying productions. You can add to their volume with either chicken or steak.

Spicy chicken soup with chorizo sausage may be the bowl du jour, and it's a bracing affair to face down winter. The onion soup, however, is standard stuff, and on the salty side. Long Island clam and corn chowder: thin and stuck in neutral.

You're better off with one of the salads. The union of endive, frisee and radicchio gets a boost with blue cheese, zinfandel-braised pear, candied pecans and a raspberry-walnut vinaigrette. Just as tasty is the warm spinach salad, with crumbled goat cheese, shiitake mushrooms, bacon and a warm vinaigrette. The Caesar trails these, but the shavings of grana padano cheese give it a boost.

Skip the black-bottom crab cakes in favor of fried calamari; forgo the heavy-duty braised short rib and foie gras agnolotti in Port wine sauce and consider the shrimp cocktail. That lobster brandade galantine, with roasted corn and corn cream, is an overorchestrated number that may lead you, instead, to the more modest grilled vegetable timbale with goat cheese.

The house's bouillabaisse manages to minimize the soup and avoid the expected "rouille crouton" entirely. It's basically a collection of overcoooked shellfish and finfish with fingerling potatoes and a hint of lobster-saffron broth.

Prosciutto-wrapped, seared ahi tuna sounds fine, but this turns out to be one tough fish, sliced in a way to ensure you experience every fibrous section. An alternative: horseradish-crusted salmon, with roasted potatoes and braised cabbage.

Black-and-white striped tortelloni, stuffed with shrimp and langoustine, in a lobster-cream sauce are undone by hard edges and a surprising blandness.

The 8-ounce "Rosewood beef burger" is all right, flanked by fries and slaw. And the strip steak au poivre has bite. Aggressive charring is the primary trait of the loin veal chop with a red wine and shallot sauce.

A braised short rib shepherd's pie, with mashed potatoes, is ample and warming. But the roasted duck breast, with "crispy strudel of leg and thigh confit" and duck sausage is arid and disappointing.

"Chocolate ooze cake" flows on cue, but the visuals are it. White chocolate bread pudding was dry and dull once, better a second time.

The best finale is the moist, light cheesecake with raspberry sauce. In this company -- a vision.

Reviewed by Peter M. Gianotti, 1/19/03.

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