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August 29, 2007

Main Course



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The hamlet of Westhampton Beach has much to recommend it: Main Street bustles with lots of shopping and dining activity in the summer months and the WHBPAC still thrives with a full schedule of entertainment.

A block away from the theater is The Patio, a restaurant that underwent changes recently and re-opened in June of this year as The Patio at 54 Main. Regardless of the name tweak, a recent visit proved that the new owner, Dwayne Kirchner, along with executive chef Katherine Kane have stayed true to The Patio's philosophy of serving steaks, chops and fresh seafood in a cheerful setting. Also attractive is the restaurant's bar area where lunch is served bistro-style to satisfy diners looking for a casual bite.

It had been a while since we visited The Patio so we were looking forward to seeing what's new there. The place did not disappoint.

We began the meal with a basket of crunchy lemon and zucchini chips ($8) that were sliced paper-thin, lightly battered and flash-fried. It's an appetizer special that is highly recommended, accompanied by a cream-based dipping sauce. A stellar shellfish starter of lobster tail, jumbo shrimp, clams, lump crabmeat, and oysters on the half shell came to the table iced and served tower-style to those in our group.

As far as wine selection, we settled on an excellent bottle of Francis Coppola's 2005 Chardonnay, aptly named "Director's Cut" for its creamy texture and buttery edge ($45). The restaurant's wine list is impressive, peppered with mainstays like French Bordeaux and domestic pinot noir but it also boasts some nice wines by the glass with a few Long Island varietals thrown into the mix.

We moved on to the "Gigi Salad," ($14) an interesting blend of shrimp, green beans, slices of red onion and tomatoes, all tossed with a tangy red wine vinaigrette. Seen more and more on local menus, the humble iceberg wedge has made a comeback, here topped with almonds, gorgonzola cheese and a sherry-based dressing ($7).

On to the main plates: we sampled a dish of very good orecchiette ($20) that was composed of flavorful sausage, broccoli rabe, garlic and oil. Other pasta offerings included "cappellini inferno," ($21) a spicy blend of shrimp and hot cherry peppers in a tangle of angel hair, and the always-popular linguine with clam sauce ($18).

We also enjoyed an entrée of pan-seared sea scallops ($30), the yummy shellfish served atop a blend of red pepper coulis, local corn and cilantro. Another main plate that received accolades was the marinated hanger steak ($24), sliced and smothered with mushrooms and onions.

Two side plates of creamed spinach and "Patio" home fries (both $6) also got the thumbs-up.

We ended the meal with a sampling of assorted desserts, coffee and a round of B&B from the bar.

It's safe to say that although it's undergone some changes, The Patio at 54 Main still retains the charm of a restaurant that has stayed true to its roots.

The Patio at 54 Main

Open year-round

54 Main Street

Westhampton Beach

288-0100

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