In the space of a week, four new restaurants open for business all within walking distance of each other.
XO Wine & Chocolate Bar
24 Clinton Ave.
Small and large plates, an intriguing list of wines, plus more than a dozen decadent chocolate-based desserts are the reason to put this newbie on the top of your “must try” list. In the small space that most recently housed Mare Luna (next to Classy Coffee)—now with walls painted red and a dozen tables both high and low—nosh on Grilled Smoked Salmon Flatbread, their light take on bagels and lox, with crème fraiche subbing for cream cheese. Order Kobe Beef Sliders, understanding that this Kobe beef has never been near Japan. These are mondo sliders, husky specimen, as big and tall as any burger made special with melted Gruyere and sweet catsup, served with truffle parmesan fries. Two of these will more than suffice. A small plate of Cavatelli is rather large and loaded with shrimp and chopped asparagus in a terrific crab-flavored tomato sauce. The intense dessert fantasies include several varieties of chocolate mousse and fondues and intriguing sounding choices like a Peanut Butter Chocolate Pretzel Tart or the Chocolate Caramel Pyramid. But the XO Signature Chocolate Soup takes the cake. Brought to the table on a silver serving tray is a large bowl filled with sliced bananas and berries and a mound of vanilla ice cream. The warm “soup” is poured from a carafe, as you might experience a lobster bisque at a high end joint. A warm feeling ensues. This is not the place to save room for dessert. As good as the food is, no one would blame you if you just went crazy and indulged in an all wine and dessert meal.
Vitae Restaurant and Wine Bar
54 New St.
In the strikingly redesigned circa 1841 building that was home to Abel Conklin’s for what seems like forever, a new generation takes hold. Almost half the space is given to the beautiful amber lit bar that makes you want to grab a stool. A honeycomb pattern drops from the ceilings and covers the windows and a big wine closet dominates the rooms. Entrees head north from the twenty dollar plateau but they have a Veal Chop which is too rare a sighting on LI and some unusual appetizers such as Short Rib Croquettes and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.
KashI Sushi Lounge
12 Elm St.
Opening right next door to Bonbori Tiki, you’d think a raw fish war was brewing but a closer look reveals a very different scene. Chill music pounds outside cluing you in that this is as much about the lounge as about the sushi. The owners of Hotoke Sushi & Steakhouse in Smithtown have created a very stylish environment with black and white leather covered banquettes and pale blue accent lights everywhere. Unusual fare includes Blue Crab Fajita, Lobster Tomato Bisque and Mushroom Risotto.
Ravagh Persian Grill
335 Main St.
Taking advantage of a location, (which Blond recently vacated) too close to the church to have a full liquor license, is the fourth link in a chain of very authentic Iranian cuisine with a menu akin to its sibling in Roslyn Heights. Kabobs rule the entrees but interesting stews simmered with beef or lamb and vegetables make for hearty dining. Try the traditional lentil soup called Ash Mash or a starter of homemade yogurt with shallots called Mast Masir or just sample some exotic salad options.
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