For years Tom Schaudel has been Long Island's most attention-getting restaurateur. On Tuesday he opened a restaurant every bit as noteworthy. Big, bold and beautiful, Jewel practically sang and danced its way onto Route 110 in Melville.
A partnership between chef Schaudel and investor Mark Beige, Jewel sprawls over half the ground floor of Rubie Corporate Plaza. The open kitchen -- where a platoon of cooks slings New American cuisine -- is visible from almost every angle. There's a vast marble bar whose neighboring lounge features a glass floor equipped with flashing lights. The main dining room is on two levels and, next to the open kitchen, there's a private "chef's table" room that seats 10. Beyond the lounge is a formal dining room and, beyond that, a cigar-and-cognac room. In all, the restaurant seats 240.
For all the glitz and glitter, the menu is down to earth, with as many local products as Schaudel and his co-chef Michael Ross can get their hands on: pork with potato-mushroom-apple hash ($26), short ribs braised in Blue Point ale ($30), pizza with Catapano goat cheese ($15).
Schaudel, a longtime student of Kung Fu, sees no contradiction. "It's more of a yin yang," he said. "I describe Jewel as Vegas in terms of the build-out, but it's very much a Long Island restaurant -- on Long Island, for Long Island, by Long Island." He's particularly proud of the 300-bottle wine list, a third of which is made up of Long Island wines.
On opening night, Schaudel himself seemed a bit humbled by the surroundings. "This place cost millions," he said. "Coolfish [the Syosset restaurant he opened in 2000] I think we did for $86.76."
Jewel is at 400 Broadhollow Rd., Melville, 631-755-5777.
Satisfying fare and a relaxed, rustic setting . . . IN JERICHO
The new restaurant from Carle Place's West End Café team is absolutely of the moment. The rustic-chic look, the convivial vibe, the farm-to-table menu and even the gentle prices (plenty of entrees are in the $15-to-$20 range) put it squarely in 2011's gastronomic sweet spot.
Adam Acerra, longtime bartender at West End, is one of three partners here, overseeing the front of the house and the tight, well-chosen wine list. Partner Bill Holden, West End's executive chef-owner, oversees a kitchen whose day-to-day operation is run by his son Chris Holden, formerly of DB Bistro Moderne in Manhattan. (Bob Caras is the third partner.)
The room is warm and lovely -- lots of reclaimed wood and repurposed barrels. The menu is made up mostly of New American standards and bistro classics. At the bar we enjoyed two terrific small bites, deviled eggs and arancini (fried risotto balls); each $5.
Throughout our meal, I was impressed with the quality of the ingredients and the kitchen's technique and artistry. But the hidebound traditionalist in me wished for a little creative restraint. I didn't get the point of the sweet tomato jam daubed on an otherwise orthodox wedge salad, or the sweet potato puree streaked across the plate of an exemplary roast chicken in simple thyme jus (a steal at $20). I was puzzled by my cassoulet, whose duck confit and sausage were placed on top of the beans and not mixed in. This dried out the meats and robbed the beans of an extra measure of flavor and texture.
Market Bistro is at 519 N. Broadway, Jericho, 516-513-1487.