The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
The Emporium in Patchogue is an all-in-one music venue, bowling alley, restaurant, club and bar. The night I went, there were more cowboy hats in the house than in an old Roy Rogers movie. The reason? A country-western singer was scheduled to perform, preceded by two opening bands and a line-dance lesson.
That, plus the acoustics, made for a deafening din in an industrial-looking space with multiple bars, bowling lanes, tables, a sunken dance floor and a stage area. The show I had come for wasnt the one on the stage but, rather, on the plate, courtesy of chef Piers Stringer.
The meal began with crusty slices of first-rate house-baked white bread; I could have kept buttering up and eating all night. An artisanal-quality Margherita pizza ($9.50) had a crisp, wholesome-tasting crust and a bright roasted tomato, pesto and fresh mozzarella topping. Another winner: an appetizer of crisp crab, chive and ricotta fritters with avocado herb salsa ($9.95).
But a thin, overcooked pork chop ($19.95) harbored unappealing tartness and came with fishy-tasting lump crab mac and cheese. Fortunately, a manager happened by, asked how everything was; he took the dish back, no questions asked. As a replacement, I ordered a bacon cheeseburger. Meanwhile, I nibbled on my companions commendable fish and chips Guinness-battered haddock with fried and crushed fingerling potatoes, the fish topped with a bright green pea puree an unconventional touch, but an inspired one. The medium-rare bacon cheeseburger Id ordered came after half an hour and was lukewarm. Even so, it had a lovely, rich beefiness. Ordinary freezer-to-fry basket fries accompanied.
House-made Stoli-orange ice cream ($5.95) was slightly boozy but lacked the intensity of flavor hoped for.
What was intense, however, was the ringing in my ears on my way out.
The restaurant serves only three days a week: Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 4 to 11 p.m. It's crucial to reserve, since the place fills up early.
The Emporium is at 9 Railroad Ave., Patchogue, 631-627-8787.
Above: No shortage of cowboys dining when a country star performs at the Emporium in Patchogue