Hudson's Mill

5599 Merrick Rd. Massapequa, NY 516-799-5394

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Type: Eclectic Special features: Bar scene Price range: $$ (Moderate) Description:

Check out the crowd at the popular new Hudson's Mill in Massapequa. You'll see families with children and tables of young and not-so-young adults; in short, a demographic cross-section of Massapequa and the surrounding areas. What did this handsome bistro-style restaurant get right? The look (lots of wood and brick), the price range (everything but steak is less than $20), the service (friendly, knowledgeable) and the food (lively contemporary American).

If I have one quibble, it's that they deliver only two pieces of their excellent tomato-topped focaccia, which arrive in the breadbasket with several slices of ciabatta and a crock of whipped herb butter. On one visit, we began with a warm potato crepe filled with shredded duck, brandied apples, mixed nuts and summer squash. It was a sweet but satisfying dish, one that evoked the Thanksgiving table. A crab cake of lump Maryland crabmeat was very good, paired with Old Bay mayonnaise. Another time, a salad of baby spinach salad with Gorgonzola, dried berries and walnuts hit the spot. The prospect of Portobello mushrooms layered with roasted peppers, greens and goat cheese seemed like something neither new nor exciting, but the fact that the mushrooms were breaded and fried to a piping hot crisp and that the other ingredients were cool made the dish distinctive.

A special of grilled salmon with hoisin barbecue sauce proved delightful, although what our waiter said would be warm potato salad appeared to be hash-browns. Sesame-crusted tuna, served with a wasabi emulsion and basmati rice, was perfectly rare, delicious. Those with heartier appetites might prefer the hunter-style chicken, pan-roasted with mushrooms, shallots, olives, capers and tomatoes, paired with whipped mashed potatoes. I didn't think the friend who ordered a special of an 18-ounce rib-eye steak with a merlot glaze would be able to finish it until I tasted the tender, succulent beef. He handily polished it off, along with hefty fries. I chose the lighter but no less appealing mahi-mahi with a perky mango jalapeno chutney; terrific sweet-potato fries accompanied. A super Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onion on focaccia came with a chopped tomato and red onion salad. A side dish of linguine fra diavolo had just the right kick.

Desserts, which are house-made, are worth the caloric splurge. Chocolate seduction translates into a flourless brownielike wedge. I'm enamored of the hot apple cobbler with cinnamon ice cream, but next time I'll ask to have the ice cream served on the side rather than on top, since it melts so quickly. A crepe filled with Nutella and vanilla ice cream, its top finished with broiled brown sugar, is nothing short of smashing. And you can't go wrong with the creamy graham-cracker-crusted cheesecake. Whipped cream is the real thing.

So is Hudson's Mill.

Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 8/22/03.

Hours: Dinner only 4:30 to 10 Sunday to Thursday, 4:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (Lunch hours begin in September.) Reservations: Not Accepted Accessibility: Yes

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Hudson's Mill 5599 Merrick Rd., Massapequa

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