Blue

7 Montauk Hwy. Blue Point, NY 631-363-6666

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Type: New American, Country, Lounge Special features: Bar scene Price range: $$$ (Expensive) Description:

Casual restaurant and nightclub serving eclectic food.

Hours: Wed-Sat: 4 p.m.-4 a.m. Notable dishes: All steaks, wok-seared red snapper, crab cake, shrimp cocktail, Athenian fettuccine.

 Blue's clues come in red: first, the meat and then the flags.

The successor to Mazzei's has been retooled into a respectable steak house. It's when the food isn't beefed up that Blue turns pretty thin. New American can be as hazardous as it was to Columbus.

Blue already draws regulars for the big bar, where taps flow and the TVs are tuned to sports. Off the bar are two very different dining rooms.

One is a high-ceilinged, cream-hued affair, ready for candlelight; the other, with windows on the highway, has the look of a catering hall. Even the menu refers to "Restaurant. Cocktails. Events." And the appeal of the place is in that order.

Your bread basket arrives with a slablet of tangy feta cheese, drizzled with olive oil and dusted with oregano, for a satisfying, gratis Greek beginning.

And, as you'd expect, the shrimp cocktail is a sensible starter. The sextet shows up on a rectangular plate, atop in-motion ice cubes, as if on a floe heading nowhere. But the shrimp are fine, and better than their overly sweet coconut-fried counterparts.

The house's "towering" tuna tartare acrobatically peaks on an upside-down martini glass, with the wasabi-and-crème fraîche-bound fish perched on the base of the stem. It needs a bit more seasoning.

A hefty, meaty pan-seared crab cake is set on grilled tomato, corn and black bean salsa, sauce remoulade nearby. "Deep blue calamari" gets its name from the blue-corn flour that dusts it. The mound of crisp squid benefits more from chipotle-pepper aioli than bland tomato sauce.

"Thai pork springrolls" don't deliver the expected heat; they're closer to sweet. French onion soup turns Italian with provolone and has enough salt to become hypertension-in-a-bowl.

Aegean salad combines dried figs, kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts and roasted peppers with arugula, endive and cooked prosciutto for a tasty trip that's more Mediterranean, in a lemon-mustard vinaigrette.

The house prepares a generous but chewy prime rib that requires more than horseradish cream. Blue's best comes from the steak menu. The ample, velvety filet mignon and the crusty 20-oz. porterhouse stand out, but you'll be equally attracted to the sirloin, rib eye or T-bone. The flush can luxuriate with 16 ounces of Kobe-style beef, at about $4.35 per.

Garlicky mashed potatoes, onion rings and sauteed spinach are the right accompaniments; rich béarnaise, the better sauce.

A double-cut "maple syrup and brown sugar roasted" pork chop is oversauced. Ask for the tender chop without the sweeteners, with applesauce and the sweet potato gratin sufficient.

Wok-seared red snapper, with cellophane noodles, adds a very modest Asian accent to the festivities. A well-done centerpiece of Parmesan risotto almost compensates for the zealously pan-seared scallops surrounding it. Sauteed shrimp enliven the "Athenian fettuccine," boosted by crumbled feta cheese, chopped tomatoes and oregano.

The chocolate fondue, with fruit for dipping, and the peanut-butter-and-jelly slathered French toast are the appropriately showy desserts. "Candy bar explosion" accurately describes a wedge of layer cake guaranteed to detonate any cavity.

But the playful desserts do let you leave in the pink.

Reviewed by Peter M. Gianotti, 8/27/05.

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Blue 7 Montauk Hwy., Blue Point

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