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After a successful 10-year run with Bistro 25, Michael Turner decided to shake things up at his Sayville restaurant.
Turner first opened the eatery at 45 Foster Ave. in January 2011. Its casual dining experience and classy atmosphere made Bistro 25 an instant hit in tight-knit Sayville and beyond.
By the end of its first year, Bistro 25 had been the subject of a favorable feature in The New York Times.
A decade later, it was time for a fresh start, Turner said. In July, Turner shut down the restaurant to renovate the dining room, reevaluate the menu and come up with a new name. He also became the sole owner, buying out his partner.
This fall, he reopened the restaurant’s doors under the new name Bistro LI.
“During COVID-19, I just felt that we needed a refresh, a reboot, so we gave it one,” Turner said. “Everything’s been lightened up. Everything is different from the floor to the ceiling, and everything in-between.”
Beyond the front of house is a bar top and spacious dining room great for small-to medium-size parties. And past a doorway is a separate dining area anchored by a sprawling community table that can comfortably seat 30 guests.
“We get families here, they’re usually earlier dining,” Turner said. “It’s very much a date night place. Large groups work well because it’s a fairly big restaurant, especially with the community table.”
Turner said the Sayville joint became known for its raw bar — and that that tradition continues. Bistro LI customers can order up jumbo shrimp cocktails, little neck clams, local oysters and pepper seared tuna.
The owner also said he tries to balance the various crowds of diners that come through. He wants to attract friends who want to share a bottle of wine, apps and desserts, as well as conventional diners who want all the courses.
Among the sharable starters are buffalo cauliflower, mushroom toast and crispy rock shrimp.
The Bedell braised short ribs with horseradish potatoes are one of the restaurant’s most popular entrees, Turner said. The entrée menu also includes filet mignon, seared Atlantic salmon and seafood jambalaya.
To wrap things up, diners can choose from many house-made desserts, including the chocolate chip banana bread with vanilla ice cream or the Tate’s gelato cookie sandwich and cheesecake jarfait, both completed with cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton.
Customers are also welcome to order specialty dishes off a blackboard in the dining room.
“Often, there’s a lot of comfort food on the blackboard specials — fried chicken, chicken pot pie,” Turner said.
“We also do a lot of farm to table,” he added. “That’s seasonal, not too much going on with farms this time of year. But we do our best with supporting local vineyards.”
For the remainder of January, Bistro LI will be open Thursday to Saturday, with dinner service beginning at 4 p.m. The restaurant is available for parties and private events every day.