File this under pleasant surprises. . .

I had dinner at 75 Main (270 E. Atlantic Ave., 561/243-7975) the other night and, frankly, I didn’t have very high expectations. Word of mouth on the downtown Delray offshoot of the Hamptons’ glitzy celebrity magnet was mixed at best. But duty calls and all that, plus I’d heard a rumor that uber-chef Mark Militello had gotten involved with Zach Erdem’s niteclubby eatery in the old Cugini Grill location, so that seemed reason enough to put my intestinal tract on the line for you, dear readers.

And guess what? My taste buds (and intestinal tract) emerged from that dinner very, very happy. Whatever issues 75 Main may have had in the beginning, Militello has cleared them up and is dishing food that’s as smartly conceived and carefully prepared as it is generously portioned. The former chef-owner of several Mark’s restaurants in SoFla isn’t just mailing it in, either. He’s there in the kitchen, making sure the food that comes out is up to his exacting standards.

I had a brief talk with Militello and found out he’s got a restaurant consulting company that’s working on projects all over the state and in the Bahamas. He’s got a contract with 75 Main to put his stamp on the menu, up the quality of the food and train the young kitchen staff (whom he’s justly proud of and who hopefully appreciates the chance to work under one of the most talented chefs in South Florida).

You’ll have to check out an upcoming issue of the magazine for the full story, but let’s just say that from the almost entrée-size portion of impeccably fresh tuna tartar to the surprisingly subtle honey-glazed salmon with heirloom carrots and ricotta gnocchi to the luscious rum-spiked budino, 75 Main is kickin’ it big time. Sometimes you do get a second chance to make a first impression.