A big game blares from at least 10 TVs while well-endowed "Canz girlz" in tank tops and short-shorts ferry food and drinks about. In a space decorated with hubcaps and crushed beer cans, the roar of the crowd competes with the amped-up sound system. At a table near me, a guy slurps "jungle juice" (a potent rum-vodka-fruit drink meant for at least two) out of a fishbowl.
Whatever am I doing here? More crucially, what is chef Vincent Pomara (who cooked at the former Louis XVI in Patchogue) doing here? Trying, it would seem, to give pub grub a good name by preparing virtually everything from scratch - no canz, no freezerz.
I'm thankful for Pomara's sprightly organic greens with green beans and red onions in a roasted shallot-sherry vinaigrette. A breadcrumb-topped casserole of mac and cheese offers down-home comfort. "Wingz" really fly, whether ordered medium or hot.
I'm won over by an herbal, citrusy grilled chicken sandwich with lemon garlic mayo and arugula, as well as a juicy, smoky grilled Western burger ignited by a topping of roasted serrano and green chiles, red onion and Cheddar. Hand-cut fries, both regular and sweet potato, are irresistible. Ribs, while not pit-smoked, are tender, savory, judiciously glazed with a house-made barbecue sauce.
Leaden fried mac 'n cheese dumplings with cheese sauce, mini corn dogs in a too-sweet batter and a dry, overcooked Greek lamb burger need to be revised or excised. So, too, an otherwise fine combo of grilled pinwheel sausage, sauteed broccoli rabe and roasted peppers, which doesn't belong in a tortilla wrap with balsamic vinegar sauce.
A pity the house-made "king ding" is undermined by dry chocolate cake. But it beats the fried Twinkie, which tastes exactly the way it sounds.
The impressive list of beers — in canz, bottlez and on tap — may draw in serious brew-philes. Yet even they may have issues with the restaurant’s dual identity: Gastro pub or frat party? Perhaps it’s just a little of both.