New Orleans, which has given the world gumbo, étouffé and jambalaya, is a city where food is practically a religion. Have a cup of chicory coffee and a plate of beignets at Café du Monde, and you will understand.
Now, at Storyville American Table, a restaurant attached to a Huntington bar that's still serving potato skins, nachos and burgers, chef Brian Finn aims to pay tribute to many of New Orleans' classics. And, some of the time -- especially with entrees and desserts -- he succeeds.
To start, Finn's gumbo, laced with chunks of andouille sausage, is thick, dark, slyly spicy. A shame, though, that the biscuits in the bread basket are crumbly, the cornbread overbaked. But charbroiled oysters topped with a rich Mornay sauce go down easy. Not so an appetizer of smoked baby-back ribs, dry enough to require a slather of one of Finn's fine house-made BBQ sauces.
But his muffuletta, an outsize Italian deli sandwich jazzed up with olive salad, is every bit as satisfying as the iconic original from Central Grocery in The Big Easy. A fried shrimp po'boy stars panko-breaded shrimp with a perky rémoulade on toasted French bread with "the works." And it's pretty good.
Better yet is his "fire and rice" jambalaya with plump shrimp, tomato, ham, smoked and andouille sausages, a dish as electrifying as it is comforting. Another hit is chicken étouffé, boneless breasts and vegetables in a lush brown sauce over rice. And it's worth getting your fingers messy eating BBQ-style jumbo head-on Gulf shrimp in a pepper, Worcestershire and butter sauce.
Finales excel. One night, co-owner Tom Curry flambés bananas Foster tableside, spooning the boozy glazed fruit over ice cream. Then, there's a light and opulent chocolate and coffee mousse. And there are beignets -- warm and winning little doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar. From Giorgio's Coffee Roasters in Farmingdale comes freshly roasted and ground brews, with or without chicory, available in a French press. Serious stuff.
Finn has just introduced a jazz brunch. So, clearly, the story on Storyville is still being written. Even now, though, it's shaping up as a page-turner.