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All it takes is 10 minutes from the Queens County line, and you can dine in history.
The Maine Maid Inn of Jericho, established in 1789 and the oldest restaurant on Long Island, is housed in a 200-year-old mansion. You're back "then" from the moment your foot crosses the doorway of the windowed entrance with its old-fashioned oak school desk and butter churns.
Although dinner is usually served in the main dining room, on holidays all nine rooms, each with a personality of its own, are opened. Then the inn seats 250.
The tap room off the entrance has two fireplaces as well as a charming bar. Behind it is the tack room which looks out onto a garden for summer dining with Wednesday night barbecues on the backside of the two tap room fireplaces.
The main dining room to the left of the entrance has another fireplace and there are too many china plates are on the wall to count - 100 or more I'd estimate.
In the back is the Tiffany room with a dozen or more lamps over the tables. This, an addition to the original house, looks as if it were a renovated barn with wide oak floors, high ceilings and a fireplace. (There are a total of six at the Inn.) And just outside is the Tiffany patio for gracious warm weather dining. Old time charm is one reason to cross the county line, food is another.
Ambassador chicken, sauteed with Chardonnay and butter, then topped with mushrooms and artichokes, and Yankee pot roast are old Maine recipes. Chef Bernard, formerly the executive chef of the Three Village Inn, has an updated menu.
At dinner, we went with the rum-spiced cider special and the orange spiced iced tea as we watched a blue martini selected from the extensive martini menu pass by. An individual loaf of white bread with apple butter on top was served on a small wooden board. And, I guess for the martini crowd, a dish of mixed olives in a sliced onion and pimiento marinade. Confession: I couldn't resist and carefully lined up the pits all in a row.
My dining companion had the crab cake appetizer. They rested atop tomato sauce on a plate heaped with corn relish and remoulade. Meanwhile, I focused on the olives.
While my companion munched on the house salad, I savored the Gorgonzola salad. It has been on the Maine Maid menu for years, but it is still cutting edge and sensational. Picture this: mesclun greens tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette with tufts of Belgium endive, topped with warm gorgonzola, toasty brown on top and so incredibly delicious.
My companion's entree choice was herb-crusted rack of lamb with a rosemary demiglaze. Now, I've seen rack of lamb handled many ways, but this was a new rendition that made great sense. After roasting, the rack was cut into four sets of two chops. They were fanned out side by side on the plate, cut side up, cooked to the exact doneness requested. A melange of green beans, sliced yellow squash and a few carrot slices accompanied it. And, there was mint jelly, but it was unnecessary.
Pasta is big at the Maine Maid. There are nine of them, including shrimp and scallop Provencale - jumbo shrimp and sea scallops, sauteed to perfection with plum tomatoes, black olives and provencale herbs ($21.95) and seafood fra diablo - sauteed half lobster tail, shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams, simmered in a fra diablo sauce ($28.95)
And I had penne gumbo - sauteed shrimp, scallops andouille sausage, chicken, plum tomatoes, fresh garlic and basil in a light marinara sauce. The portion was huge. It is definitely a doggie proposition and it is definitely a seafood delight.
Coffee is served, and then, after a leisurely wait, the question is popped: "Dessert?" But of course. The viewing tray appeared. I was intrigued by the three variations of ice cream truffles - amaretto nut, vanilla with chocolate and cappuccino. My dining companion had apple crumb pie, quite a masterpiece of layered apple slices topped with volupuopse crumbs.
I loved the look of history. It tasted great.
The Bottom Line
Oldest restaurant on North Shore. Six fireplaces. Much charm. Traditional American food. Maine originals and some 21st-century. Good service.
Gorgonzola Salad (mesclun greens and Belgian endive with balsamic vinaigrette and warm Gorgonzola cheese)...$7.95
LittleNeck Clams served casino, oreganato, or on the half shell... $9.95
Roast Long Island Duckling (with choice of orange or three-berry sauce)...$20.95
Shrimp and Scallop Provencale (jumbo gulf shrimp and sea scallops sauteed to perfection with plum tomatoes, black olives and Provencale herbs)...$21.95
Black Midnight Cake...$4.75
Ice Cream Truffles...$4.75
Cuisine: Traditional American
Setting: North Shore's oldest restaurant
Hours: L&D 7 days. Brunch Sun
Parking: Front & back lot
Location: Exits-LIE 41N, Northern State 35N or Northern Blvd. 107S
Dress: Neat casual
Credit cards: All major
Children: Own menu
Off-premise catering: Yes
Private parties: To 150
Smoking: Private dining room
Handicap access: Yes
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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