Sapsuckers Hops & Grub
287 Main St. Huntington, NY 631-683-4945
Dimly lit yet very fresh and comfortable, this may appear at first to be a pub where bar eats are the norm, but in fact the kitchen is putting out contemporary American fare. Sure there are familiar appetizers like mac-n-cheese and nachos, but those openers share menu space with potato pierogies, peel-and-eat shrimp and pulled pork placed on small potato rolls. The sandwiches follow suit, with opportunities like wild boar sausage, a Montauk lobster roll--even a vegetarian burger, served with fontina cheese on a brioche bun. The entrées are as unique, with lamb meatloaf, duck confit and fish 'n' chips--the latter proving that while the food maybe fancy, at its heart this is still a fine pub for beer and conversation at the bar. (Be sure and check for daily specials; they are written on the mirrors that hang across from the taps.)Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and Monday, noon to midnight; Friday and Saturday, noon to 1 a.m.; closed Tuesday. Ambience: Good Service: Good Reservations: Not Accepted Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible.
At Sapsuckers Hops & Grub, executive chef Nino Antuzzi uses organic eggs, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and Berkshire pork. What's not made on-site comes from artisanal suppliers - bread from Tom Cat Bakery in Queens, desserts from Fiorella Dolce, a bakery-gelateria in Huntington that Antuzzi also owns. In tight, minimalist quarters, this gastro-pub (named for a bird) offers revved-up comfort classics of a caliber rarely seen at this price point. Relax, order a microbrew and catch a game on TV.
IN THE ZONE
A wood smoker sends forth an appetizer of meaty, tender, deeply smoky baby back ribs. You also taste the essence of hickory in the three little pigs, pulled pork sliders on potato rolls. Four cheeses (Parmesan, sharp and mild Cheddar plus Fontina) contribute richness to a winning casserole of mac and cheese with an herbed bread crumb crust. A Cubano sandwich on ciabatta features roasted pork, ham, Swiss and pickles; it's good and gooey. The Sardinian-style dog is actually a glorious house-made wild boar sausage nestled in a brioche roll with caramelized onions and a balsamic reduction. I'm also enamored of the Chicago-style hot dog with tomato wedges, green relish, raw onion and mustard. My burger is rare and juicy, with tomato, red onion and Cheddar; like all sandwiches, it's served with hand-cut fries, dark brown and nutty, as well as half-sour pickles, a favorite. I have an OMG moment when tasting the smoked and braised pork shank - soft, complex, seductive - atop a bed of couscous. Both the chocolate truffle cake (a layered cylinder topped with intensely bittersweet truffles) and the homey-elegant carrot cake are showstoppers. So, too, is the clean-tasting vanilla gelato.
While fish and chips are very good, they don't get my heart pumping. Nor does the good, not great, chicken potpie - a pastry cap atop a casserole of chicken and vegetables in a rich white sauce.