Grey Horse Tavern
291 Bayport Ave. Bayport, NY 631-472-1868
This clever pub goes the organic, humanely-raised route on a menu that stresses shared appetizers, soups, salads and sandwiches. Sundays and Wednesday-Thursday, a 3-course $24.95 prix-fixe is available (the restaurant is closed Monday-Tuesday), while Friday and Saturday nights after 9 p.m., live bands play—sometimes they even perform in the upstairs lounge. Meanwhile, Thursday nights the action is at the bar with an 8 p.m. bingo session that grants winners cash and prizes. Sunday mornings also have a special reason to come by, as they offer a brunch (until 3 p.m.) that, like all the ingredients used here, support local farms while skipping on things like hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup. There is an outdoor biergarten, perfect for summer sipping alfresco.
Chef Steven Cardello goes the organic, humanely raised route on a menu that stresses shared appetizers, soups, salads and sandwiches.
An herbal spring vegetable soup tastes as though the ingredients were just picked; garlic soup with leeks, potatoes and oregano pesto is both creamy and lusty. I get a single baked Blue Point oyster with creamed leeks, melted cheese and buttery crumbs and it's lush.
A must is the Berkshire pork sandwich, grill-pressed, slow-braised meat with onion marmalade, pickles, Swiss cheese and spicy mustard: tangy-spicy-sweet, melty and marvelous. Equally seductive is a huge, beefy, hyper-flavorful burger. Hand-cut fries are first-rate; so are freshly fried potato chips, and I could eat a whole plate of the Satur Farm baby vegetables. Bean-loving vegetarians will go for the mushroom and adzuki bean burger with cucumber-avocado relish and soy-ginger mayo.
Don't miss the warm beignets, served with three dipping sauces. Or the fresh peach cobbler. Or the slightly loose but satiny dark chocolate pudding with peanut butter whipped cream.
I find a troubling stinginess here, a tendency to nickel-and-dime diners on random items. Warm rolls (shaped like huge biscuits) are addictive; we each get one. Our waitress announces it'll cost $1.25 apiece for seconds; we pass. Spiced smoked almonds are sensational but should be a giveaway, not $3. A "ploughman's" share platter features "farmhouse Cheddar, country bread, dry sausage, onion marmalade and apple." There are a few scraps of stale rye, five thin slivers of apple and, oddly, a sizable hunk of Cheddar.
Mac and cheese cries out for salt, pepper, anything with flavor. And a roast beef sandwich on thick but dry hand-sliced rye is downright dull.
Things are still evolving at this very new restaurant, so hopefully the kinks will soon be worked out. Considering all the positives, I'd gladly pony up for a tank of gas and gallop out to Bayport. --Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 8/8/08.