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Newton's Lumiere offers own take on Chinese fare for Jewish Christmas Eve tradition

Posted by Laura Franzini  November 16, 2012 11:11 AM

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It's become an American, if not a religious, Jewish tradition: while carolers sing and churches host a midnight mass, those who don't celebrate Christmas Eve eat Chinese food and watch movies.

But if you're looking to spice up the usual takeout fare this year, head over to Lumière in Newton, where chef and owner Michael Leviton will again be serving up his own take on timeless Chinese dishes.

"It's a fabulous tradition and I have some background cooking Asian-inspired food," said Leviton, a Newton native who now lives in Lexington, and whose formative cooking experience comes from his time spent in New York and San Francisco.

San Francisco's vibrant Asian communities gave Leviton the opportunity to see and try a variety of "reasonably authentic" Asian food, he said.

Lumière's Christmas Eve dinner will be held like any other night at the fine dining restaurant, Leviton said, just with a different menu and, perhaps, a different vibe.

"The pressure's off for our guests. I think everybody's just in a better mood," he said.

Leviton, who is Jewish, picked up on the Chinese food/movie tradition in high school, and said he believes it's something that resonates with a good portion of his usual guests.

"It both is and is not tongue-in-cheek," he said. "I certainly like that aspect of it."

Gone to Lumière for Christmas Eve dinner in the past? Don't worry.

"We don't repeat the menu, so we're doing new stuff every year," Leviton said.

This year's menu will consist of dishes like Chow Fun with Maine shrimp and black vinegar; crispy braised pork belly with Chinese greens and XO sauce; and Chinese black chicken soup with ginger, ginseng, and jujubes.

There will also be holiday dishes from other sources, including traditional Christmas and American dishes, with the restaurant's typical nod to France.

"I'm kind of excited by all of it," Leviton said when asked if he had a favorite. He did say he was looking forward to the pork dish, since the restaurant doesn't often sell a lot of it.

Lumière has been at 1293 Washington Street in Newton for 14 years, and combines classic bistro elements, modern cooking techniques, and local and sustainable ingredients. Leviton said they've been doing the Christmas Eve dinner for probably 5 or 6 years.

Reservations can be made through OpenTable.com, or by calling 617-244-9199.

And after dinner, check out what's playing at the West Newton Cinema, conveniently located right across the street.

Laura Franzini can be reached at laura.franzini@globe.com.

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