When it comes to atmosphere, Jewel in Melville does everything right. From the second you first pull up to the valet parking and striking front entrance-way to the second you walk out the door to go home, you will be impressed by the dazzling environment.
Jewel is the brainchild of chef Tom Schaudel and clearly he paid close attention to detail with designing this place. The restaurant has a very modern, contemporary look and will make you feel like you've entered a hopping Manhattan spot.
Lauren and I were immediately struck by the large bar in the center of the restaurant. It features a light up floor that swells in and out like the ocean - and offers plenty of places to drink. You can sit in little chairs around the bar or lean on stand-up counter tops. It really is the perfect place to bring a date or grab drinks with co-workers after a long day at the office.
Lauren and I waited about 20 minutes for a table, which isn't bad considering it was a Wednesday of Restaurant week. But Lauren and I have become snobs since we usually never wait when we book with opentable, so we complained quietly to one another for a few minutes. We actually enjoyed ourselves in the spacious, comfortable waiting area and listened to the great live musicians playing. Shortly after we were taken to a nice table placed next to a giant glass wall. On the other side of the wall is the open kitchen where you can see the chefs hard at work preparing meals. Lauren and I liked the look of it. It makes you feel like you are in on the action and takes the mystery out of "the kitchen."
Our waiter went over the restaurant week specials and took our drink orders. I played it safe with a coke (I had to go to work shortly after dinner that evening) and Lauren had a glass of wine which she enjoyed very much. We were also delivered a full basket of fresh, hot and crispy rolls. Nice touch. There is olive oil on the table which makes for a great first appetizer. As part of our $25 Restaurant Week Prix Fix, we were both entitled to an appetizer. We both chose the "Almost Caesar Salad" which arrived at the table almost immediately after we ordered it.
Lauren and I agreed the salad was delicious and a good portion with Baby Romaine lettuce, Radicchio, and a Lemon-Anchovy Dressing.
For our meals - Lauren went with the Butternut Squash Lasagna with Basil, Romano, Bechamel, and Ameretti. Lauren said it was "good" and that she was "satisfied" but that nothing "wowed" her about it. She said she likely wouldn't order it again.
For my main course, I chose the Marinated Skirt Steak with Garlic Scented Creamed Spinach and Fingerling Potatoes. It was a nice size portion, came out hot, was cooked the way I asked, and was seasoned very well. It certainly filled me up and I enjoyed the flavor. The spinach and potatoes made for great side dishes and were both tasty.
For dessert - I had the Chocolate Flourless Cake with Salted Caramel and Whipped Cream. It was very small but surprisingly filling. Maybe it was because I ate my entire portion of meat. It left a nice sweet lasting impression in my mouth and the ended the night well.
Lauren opted for the Mixed Berry Cobbler with Chantilly Cream. We both thought it was good. Jewel is definitely a great atmosphere place. It's perfect for a night of drinks, reliable food and an impressive atmosphere. We give it a hearty and solid 4 out of 5 mints on the dinner mint scale.
Speaking of atmosphere - also worth noting is the men's bathroom. You really get a chance to see Chef Tom's humor come out here. The bathroom is elegant - but there is a giant black and white photo of paparazzi with cameras staring at you while you use the urinals. Every once in a while -- light bulbs on the wall start flashing (as if pictures are being taken) and you hear lots of noise come over the speaker system. Then, different voices yell funny things at you. (But I'll let what they say remain a mystery) I looked at the guy next to me in shock and he smiled and said: "Oh, you never saw this before?" I guess he was a regular! It made for a funny story when I met Lauren back at the table.