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La Plage

131 Creek Rd. Wading River, NY 631-744-9200

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Type: French, Lunch, Eclectic Special features: Early bird/prix-fixe deals, Outdoor Seating Price range: $$$ (Expensive) Description:

La Plage boasts a menu largely based on seafood options prepared in a French-American style. The dinner menu, which displays most of these options prominently, includes smoked salmon ravioli and lobster salad as appetizers. Either option can be followed by the seared fluke, pan roasted striped bass or the daily fish selection for the main course.

The lunch menu provides more variety and features apple wood smoked beef carpaccio and tomato salad for starters, and duck confit and rigatoni pasta as entrees.

(menu is subject to change)

Hours: Lunch: Wed.-Sat., noon to 3 p.m. Dinner: Wed. and Thurs 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., open Sun. 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations: Accepted Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Y

 The rainstorm -- short but soaking -- ended minutes before we arrived at La Plage, tucked away in rural Wading River. Our reservation was for a table on the canopied patio, affording us a partial view of the beach across the street. "Everything outdoors is drenched," the hostess said. "And we have nothing for you inside -- unless you want to wait at least an hour." She went on: Although it was impossible to thoroughly dry the patio chairs, we could sit atop folded linen tablecloths. Others were doing just that. And so would we. Once seated, it wasn't long before our elbows were damp -- the newly laid cloth was becoming waterlogged from underneath. Still, for better or wetter, I'd come for a reason: to sample the eclectic menu of executive chef Wayne Wadington and chef de cuisine Stephane Schmitt. The Paris-born Schmitt, at La Plage since February, had the kitchen to himself, since Wadington was cooking at Caruso's, a Miller Place restaurant he co-owns. The chef's expertise showed from the outset, in an appetizer special of thinly sliced raw striped bass carpaccio. The fish, fresh and cool, was sparked by a lemon garlic vinaigrette, topped with julienne cucumbers, radishes and onions. I liked the panko-crusted crab cake, plated with a colorful sweet yellow pepper coulis and avocado-fennel salad, but it was upstaged by a vernal risotto made with blue swimmer crab, asparagus, chervil butter and a lemon confit whose bright citrus notes played well against the creamy rice. An entree of caramelized sea scallops with sweet pea and crabmeat dumplings (delicate wontons with a satiny sheen) came in a fragrant nori broth. A hearty hanger steak, rare as ordered, went well with a bright panzanella salad of garlic bread with corn and tomatoes. Sweet yet appealing was a coconut-soy glazed tuna steak, rare, speared with sugar cane and served over mashed boniato (tropical sweet potato). Better yet was a special of seared and roasted bass with a heady chanterelle mushroom.asparagus ragout and perfumy summer truffle gnocchi. We ignored the chill breeze, engrossed in cracking the surface of a Tahitian vanilla creme brulee. A banana chocolate bread pudding with molten chocolate center and house-made dulce de leche ice cream was every bit as compelling. Mosquitoes were biting our arms, and our tushes were damp. But so what? We were across from the beach under the night sky and eating gloriously well. Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 7/20/07.