CU 29 Wine and Bistro
100 South Main St., Sayville
I have to admit, naming a restaurant Cu29 Wine and Bistro, after the symbol for a favorite metal—copper—displays a certain weird point of view that is too often missing on the Long Island scene.
But Collins and Main closed after a nice run and copper semi-conductor magnate Manny Lakios, who already owned the building, took a shot in a weak economy and saved one for Sayville. The menu latches on to the small plates craze. Here, they call them “dining elements” and they’re great for indecisive eaters who don’t want to commit. CU 29 knows its audience, walking that fine line between edgy innovation and accessibility. Don’t want to get too “out there” here in the ’burbs, you know.
Some nice wines by the glass and a nice bourbon menu are added attractions. Black-clad Water (H2O) Boys and Bread Girls act as greeters in the copper-brown and tan rooms. Rosemary rolls, cranberry buns and such are offered like jewels on a tray, disappearing back into the vault until a new party is seated. Waitresses are congenial and well-versed and the piano player in the middle of the room plays solid gold (Au) hits.
A good meal here should include at least two dishes. One night my wife and I shared Thai BBQ Chicken Skewers ($8), following with one dish each, but required two desserts to finish. The juicy, generous skewers weren’t as “Thai” as I like, but the pineapple salad added just enough sweetness while the BBQ sauce (instead of, I guess, satay-peanut sauce) added too much. It’s all about options here. The warm, fried wonton skins surrounding the raw fish of the Crispy Wrapped Tuna ($14) was an impressive twist on sushi. You can choose to swipe them through squiggles of pomegranate sauce or dip in soy sauce and wasabi. It was then I came to the realization that small plates eating is really just sushi bar eating.
Sake Steamed Clams and Chinese Sausage ($14) sounds like an odd combo but works. Seared Scallops Risotto ($19) is just right—enormous sea scallops and wild mushrooms in truffle-infused rice. The Duck Confit Flatbread ($13) would have benefited with less sweet BBQ sauce, allowing more of the taste of the meat to break through. There’s a slight tendency toward over-sweetening here. Coco Dusted Braised Short Ribs and Vanilla Bean Butter Poached Lobster ($23) has got to be the longest entrée name I’ve ever eaten or typed. The delicious ribs are fork tender and the small lobster tail a nice bonus, but I would have enjoyed it more without the added sweetness (and the name would be shorter). One night we weren’t sure if we had ordered enough. When we finished a few dishes our waitress intuitively asked “Want to see the dessert menu or the regular menu?” We moved to dessert, Profiteroles and Crepes ($7) each.
A little of this, a little of that; small plates is really just like turning Japanese.
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