Dining Out: Regents Row

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81-25 Lefferts Blvd.

Kew Gardens

Phone: 850-4292

Fax: 380-2271

Ask and you shall know. Long Island's Roosevelt Raceway was the inspiration for the name of this 1970s and 80s restaurant in Kew Gardens called Regents Row. The alliteration of the two R's did it. And then, it became an Italian place.

The new owners Paddy, Patrick and Paul (How's that for alliteration?) are returning the classic landmark to the original in more ways than one. The ambience made it famous. And the ambience got me. I loved the timbered look and when I stepped inside there was a wonderful warm and friendly feeling. Where might I be? In a pub in Ireland? Or England? A Revolutionary tavern in New England? Or a rathskeller in Heidelberg?

Dark wood, Tiffany shades overhead, a copper hooded fireplace. And the well- starched, pristine-looking pink cloths with white throws and perky, pink napkins standing bolt upright. A fresh flower or two on every table. And some men in business suits. When did you last see that in a neighborhood restaurant? (RR has a dress code requiring a shirt.) The lighting is pleasing. The arm chairs relaxing. The sound level is mellow overall. However, at the bar, it is somewhat livelier.

I was glad that Regents Row reopened the first week of December. But as it often happens with restaurants, the grand opening is yet to come. It is scheduled to occur Feb. 28 and 29.

Paddy, Patrick and Paul (I wanted another chance to alliterate), are bringing back the restaurant's original menu. Longtime Regents chef Cliff is also back in the kitchen. In addition, they've added another chef, Max, from Manhattan. Paddy is taking a rest

On this bitter winter's night, there were three of us seated around the round table in the far corner, contemplating the menu's selections such as steamed Dublin Bay Mussels with fresh garlic and onion in white wine. (My dining companion, a man of little faith, mused, "How do they know they're from Dublin?) Also on offer: oak-smoked salmon with chopped egg, onion, and capers, served atop homemade brown bread. He had the jumbo shrimp cocktail with five large shrimp.

I went for the deep-fried brie with fruit coulee, a sophisticated item, nicely done but just barely warm. (Dining companion No.2 noted that our serving plates were also cold.) Other selections included: mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat and served in a creamy horseradish sauce and bell peppers stuffed with a choice of chicken and bacon. (There is also a vegetarian version.)

Dining companion No. 2 had the chef's special selection of the day with soup or salad. (The house salad was tossed cucumber, tomato, onion and shredded carrot prettily arranged on a salad plate.)

The Regents Row specials included a blackened steak and chicken seared with Louisiana spices. I had the stuffed salmon filet, which appeared as a thick North Atlantic salmon steak topped with a shrimp and crabmeat stuffing. It was moist and delicious.

One of my dining companions had the fresh free-range chicken roasted with fresh herbs. The other enjoyed rack of lamb with rosemary, red wine and mushroom. There was also filet of pork with apple and walnut as well as an entree of savory pork chops wrapped in bacon. And of course, beer-batter fish and chips, which a gentleman dining alone enjoyed. The Hibernian chicken with sage and onion stuffing in a mushroom sauce sounded very with it.

Two steak items are worth salivating over: the 18-oz. T-bone with armagnac and mushroom sauce and the 12, 14, or 16-oz. NY shell steak with a black pepper whiskey sauce. (The filet mignon comes with a red wine onion sauce.) Our desserts were Bailey's cheese cake and a torte. They arrived swathed in whipped cream which tasted rich, bringing with it memories of the lush, ultra-green grass in Ireland. I have no memory of the coffee but that signifies that it passed muster. Regents Row also serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, offering a most generous Irish breakfast.

The Bottom Line

A 25-year-old landmark reopened. Charming pub setting. Lunch, dinner, and brunches on Saturday and Sunday. Good American fare with Irish touches.

Chefs' Choice

Fresh Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail...$8.95

Stuffed Mushrooms (stuffed with crabmeat in a creamy horseradish sauce) ... $5.95

Oak-Smoked Salmon (with chopped egg, onion & capers on homemade brown bread) ... $10.95

Rack of Lamb (with rosemary, red wine & mushroom sauce) ... $19.95

Surf & Turf (8-oz. filet mignon and lobster tai1) ... $23.95

Fresh salmon ... $19.95

Bailey's cheesecake ... $3.50

Black Forest Gatteau ... $3.50

Tiramisu ... $3.50

Food: American, Irish touches

Setting: Pub-like


Reservations: Yes

Location: Corner of Austin, (opposite entrance to LIE)

Parking: Street

Dress: Dress code - shirts required

Credit cards: All major

Children: Own menu

Private parties: To 90

Takeout: Yes.

Smoking: None

Noise level: Mellow in dining room

Handicap-accessible: Yes

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