When walking into Secrets of Flight at 170 Main St. in Port Washington, there are clues about the passions of its owner, Aleksander Betko, who is an artist turned chef.
The restaurant is adorned with art from his Brooklyn apartment, and the menu features creations from Betko’s time studying culinary art.
“If you’re an artist, you work in restaurants. That’s how it goes,” he said.
He moved to Port Washington three years ago from Williamsburg and was looking for “a neighborhood spot” that featured “the cocktails, food and culture” he was used to in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
When he couldn’t find that, he decided to open his own restaurant.
Betko previously worked at Balthazar and Boqueria Spanish Tapas in Manhattan, and most recently worked at Port’s The Wild Goose.
At Secrets of Flight, Betko, who described himself as a “raging Francophile” who wants to do business with American farmers, specializes in French cuisine and makes everything including the sourdough bread from scratch.
Betko said many of his dishes are cooked using techniques that are hundreds of years old and he can tell you the origin of every one of his ingredients.
“There are no cutting corners,” he said. “And it comes across when people taste it.”
The name Secrets of Flight derives from a Douglas Adams quote in his book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” where he says “there is an art to flying, or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
It is also a tribute to the rich aviation history of Port Washington, which hosted the first commercial transatlantic airline in the U.S.
Secrets of Flight opened the day after Thanksgiving with a soft opening and has been consistently busy since, Betko said.
Dishes to start range from $10 to $17 and include an artisanal cheese plate featuring international cheeses, brandade de morue (salt cod, potato, garlic and cream) and shrimp bouillabaisse.
There are seven main course options, which range in price from $20 to $38.
Diners can choose from the braised Colorado lamb shank, which comes with mashed potatoes, haricot verte and a red wine reduction. Betko also makes a homemade rigatoni which he serves with spicy sausage and tomato passato.
The restaurant’s Badger Bar also serves a number of specialty cocktails for $15 and quality wines that range in price from $10 to $15 for a glass.