2009-03-25 / Restaurant of the Week



This cool, sleek restaurant and lounge will mentally transport you to a breezy island where life is luscious and carefree. The interior of multilevel Island Restaurant and Lounge features whitewashed walls and tables with upholstery in shades of cucumber green. The upper level is furnished with dozens of inviting sofas, intimate seating areas and even a boudoir with sheer curtains and lots of pillows, beckoning you to sit, relax and stay awhile. Who would want to leave when the ambience is so pleasant, the food so delicious, and the service so friendly and efficient?

Island is quickly becoming "THE venue" for unique, memorable affairs. Several weddings have gone off seamlessly, with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres on the main floor and dinner and dancing above. A recent political event was held at Island, where up to 600 people can be accommodated for a standing cocktail party, and 250 for a seated dinner or sumptuous lunch. Think of Island for your engagements, christenings, anniversaries and business or organization events. Island is under new, professional management, with Kostas Kantlis at the helm. Island is a wonderful place for dinner.

The airy, yet intimate décor is so inviting, and the food and cocktails are top notch. You ought to start with a signature cocktail such as the strawberry mojitomade with fresh fruit, mint and muddled lime for a taste of the tropics.

The cucumber mojito is a refreshing surprise for the palate. A broad selection of wines, beers and spirits offers all your favorites.

The menu can be described as Mediterranean, with some Asian and Latin touches.

All dishes are made on the spot utilizing a minimum of herbs, spices and extra virgin olive oil to bring out the natural flavor and freshness of the high quality ingredients.

We were graciously presented with a fabulous tasting of several of Island's appetizers and entrees, each one impressive for its flavor, freshness and beautiful presentation. A gleaming white platter of Mediterranean "meze" was brought, featuring an assortment of smooth, spreadable dips including eggplant dip, creamy hummus, bits of feta cheese, a ramekin of roasted, diced beets and stuffed grape leaves, all meant to be eaten along with warm triangles of pita bread. Next came a martini glass filled with ceviche, a flavorful, marinated seafood salad whose roots lie in South America. Topped with several plump shrimp and slices of lime, the accompanying tortilla chips added crunch to this citrusy seafood salad ($9). Grilled calamari salad is also perfectly executed here, with rings of calamari that are sublimely tender, arranged on baby greens with lemon thyme vinaigrette ($8). Fresh, hand chopped tuna tartare was served on slices of cucumber with spicy avocado and mango salsa that enhanced the freshness of the raw tuna ($9). Plump shrimp are fried until golden in a sunflower seed crust with orange mango sauce for dipping, and Island's crab cake is full of sweet lump crab meat, served with spicy slaw and wasabi ($8).

Island's carefully chosen entrees include something for everyone, including meat, chicken, fish, vegetarian and pasta. Moroccan spiced halibut was a real treat for the eyes and the palate. Flaky, fresh halibut was mildly seasoned with Moroccan spices and pan seared until golden. The fillet was then placed atop a mound of fluffy couscous and accompanied by grilled vegetables for a light and healthful meal that is very satisfying ($19). Grilled salmon is served with warm lentil salad, seared spinach and peppercorn cream sauce. Jumbo sea scallops are so tender, served with a mélange of vegetables in lobster broth. Next time I'll try the jumbo prawns with asparagus and risotto or the handmade seafood ravioli.

New Zealand baby lamb chops simply melt on the tongue, served on a mound of creamy mushroom risotto and garnished with honey glaze ($19). Herbroasted chicken is the ultimate comfort food and warms the soul with its natural "jus" and garlic mashed potatoes ($15). Meat eaters will love the ribeye steak with shallot sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and verdant asparagus, or try the Island steak frites with fresh cut fries.

End your meal with one of the chef's special desserts of the day. A robust espresso and an after dinner wine or cordial bring the meal to a perfect finish. Island welcomes guests who just want a cocktail or dessert and coffee after a movie. A d.j. entertains on weekend nights when Island remains open until 4am. Island is open until 1am during the week and is closed on Monday.

For an escape to the sultry, carefree feeling of an island, complete with excellent food and cocktails, visit Island Restaurant and Lounge. Your next affair is guaranteed to get "wows" from your guests at this visually stunning, multi-level restaurant and lounge.

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