Marks The Spot On The Foodie Map
By Pete & Mike/ firstname.lastname@example.org
You can’t judge a book by its cover
and you can’t always judge a restaurant by its name.
Take Huntington’s Aix en Provence.
One might assume that a restaurant bearing the name of an
ancient city in southern France would be strictly French.
But Mitch and Debbie Hauser – who own the Locust Valley
landmark Barney’s as well – have created on a
New York Avenue a dining experience that while it is decidedly
French, is a whole lot more. Their willingness to stray and
experiment makes it difficult to put them in so strict a category
and like so many restaurants today, Aix-En-Provence is difficult
That said… France is clearly the starting
point. The red room – an homage to Matisse, perhaps
– has a French Country feel and a candle on every table
adds to the warmth. At the end of the room facing the harbor,
French doors open out to a patio whose umbrella-covered tables
beckoned us to return for a visit during daylight hours. And
the menu – well it’s sort of a global French with
foie gras, roast duck and plenty of magical saucery from the
food capital of the world. But the executive chef –
owner Mitch Hauser – approaches his menu like a Frenchman
at the marketplace and he isn’t afraid to fill his basket
with the best of what’s being offered on a given day.
So diners are as likely to find find lobster, barbeque pork,
monkfish and antelope on the menu as they are duck. Our recent
visit started with the complimentary soft-shelled crab that
was set before every diner that night. The seasonal specialty
was sautéed with golden raisins Provencale and set
atop bed of wild rice with crisp haricots vert – or
string beans as we call them in these parts. Warm sourdough
rolls and herbed butter kept our hands busy while we our server
Chris handed over the menu and explained the chef’s
specials of the day. There’s a duck presentation every
day – that night it was in a red currant demi glaze
with wild rice ($30) – and we also had to tempt us Seared
Wolfish with baby vegetables and Fregola Tebouleh, and Texas
Black Buck Antelope in a pepper sauce. And that’s on
top of a regular menu that features a medley of first courses
and no less than ten entrees, each sounding better than the
All that temptation made the five course
tasting menu an easy choice for the Foodies. For starters
we selected from the specials menu a Lobster Salad and one
of the restaurants signature dishes – foie gras. The
first was a summery starter featuring chunks of sweet Maine
lobster over baby greens with goat cheese, artichoke hearts
and back Mission figs. A champagne vinaigrette complimented
the mix nicely. The seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras was a sensational
mix of flavors -- prosciutto shrimp sautéed in a reduction
of a 20-year port wine and served with dollops of fruit chutney
and red onion marmalade made for a plate-sized tasting tour.
We could only imagine what we were missing among the other
first-course selections; we were tempted by the Maryland Crabcake
with a lemon caper emulsion ($13); the Coconut Shrimp with
Jumbo Asparagus with apple slaw and an orange reduction ($15);
and the Portobello Mushroom Cap with mozzarella, roasted pepper,
tomato and basil($13). Salad selection were also tempting,
if only to sample the dressings. A salad of field greens with
candied pecans and grape tomatoes ($10) is dressed with an
intriguing sounding Maple Sherry dressing; and the Rocket
Salad ($11) beckoned with a flavorful sounding mix of prosciutto,
feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.
But on to the entrees.
We were tempted by the Herb Roasted Tenderloin
of Lamb with a pistachio couscous ($33); the Seared Diver
Scallops with ricotta gnocchi, wilted spinach, roast corn
and an intriguing sounding foie gras emulsion tomato coulis
($28); as well as the Texas Black Buck Antelope au poivre
from the specials menu. Ultimately we tried a pair of seafood
dishes and the signature duck.
Seared Ahi Tuna is a Foodie favorite and
the dish that seems to be on every restaurant’s menu
these days. Aix’s version ($29) was a melt-in-your-mouth
fresh fish treat served with soba noodle and wakame salad
and stirred fried vegetables. A spicy ginger soy glaze gave
the dish an oriental flavor.
On our server Chris’ recommendation
we tried the Seafood Lasagna and were glad we did. It was
a boulliabaisse-like concoction of lobster, shrimp, scallops
brie cheese in a saffron lobster sauce. The wafer thin slab
of honmemade pasta was almost superfluous, and the attentive
staff was wise enough to bring another round of rolls so we
could enjoy every drop f the delicious broth.
The star of the night – the Long Island
Duckling ($30) consisting of a seared breast and confit leg.
The red currant glaze was perfection, and the confit leg had
us wishing ducks had bigger legs. Much bigger. Confit is created
by wrapping duck legs in herbs and rendered duck fat, and
leaving the mix in the fridge for two weeks. Then each leg
is deep fried, burning off the fat and leaving a crisp flavorful
treat. Aix excels at the art.
Our five course tasting menu was served efficiently
by Chris and a helper; fresh silverware was place with each
course, and each was delivered with an explanation of what
we were about to enjoy. After five trips to the silver caddy,
the last course was dessert. We wanted to try a little bit
of several desserts, but the cheese platter ($12 for one;
$17 for two) was too tempting (the Foodies are cheesies too,
you know). More traditional dessert ($9) urges were more than
satisfied by the Flourless Silk Chocolate Cake drizzled with
Kahlua Anglaise was smooth and chocolatey; a mini Crème
Brulee was made as only the French can; and the Mango Glace
was light, not too sweet and entirely refreshing.
Any Frenchman will tell you that man does
not live on food alone. Aix-En-Provence manager Remy van Driel’s
Wine Spectator Award winning selections are extensive in price
range and selection. A quartet each of red and white are available
by the glass for $9, with a few premium selections priced
Aix-En-Provence earns a place on the Foodie
map; put it on your itinerary.
134 New York Avenue
Atmosphere: Haute cuisine
in a country French setting
Hours: Open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday.
Price Range: Expensive,
but the $28.95 prix fixe Sunset Menu (Sun-Fri from 5 to 6:30
pm) offers an affordable Aix experience.