Crabtree’s New York & Main
330 New York Ave., Huntington
AMBIENCE: Rustic and warm, with industrial details. Broad windows overlook downtown Huntington, and the room becomes loud as the night wears on.
SERVICE: Informal yet attentive
ESSENTIALS: Dinner, Sunday to Thursday 5 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday to 1 a.m.; no reservations; major credit cards accepted; not handicapped accessible. Street parking in downtown Huntington is a challenge; there are municipal lots nearby.
By night, the intersection of New York Avenue and Main Street in Huntington is a busy place, especially when a show ends at The Paramount and people stream by, seeking their cars or the next thrill. After midnight, they line up for cold-cheese slices at Little Vincent’s.
From a table inside Crabtree’s New York and Main, you can watch the entire tableau. Broad windows in this second-floor restaurant have a killer view of the action below. And with the bar-slinging stellar drinks, it’s a place to linger, even if it’s a slightly trickier place to eat.
Chef Andrew Crabtree and his partner, owner Dean Philippis, opened Crabtree’s in October in the old Chesterfields space, and it’s the newest spot in what’s now a triad of local eateries that includes Piccolo’s and Centerport’s Mill Pond House, where Crabtree has served as executive chef. The name of their newest collaboration is sly: Crabtree grew up in Huntington, and many here know him, a local kid who worked on a lobster boat before attending the Culinary Institute of America and spending a decade in the San Francisco restaurant scene.
With Crabtree’s, the pair aimed to create an “industry place” where their peers — servers and kitchen staff who get off work at odd hours — could still grab a bite. The kitchen at Crabtree’s is open until midnight during the week and 1 a.m. on weekends, far later than most places in town, and the chef is often part of the scene, milling around the dining room.
To find that dining room, one must climb narrow, exotically tiled steps into a quasi-industrial but still inviting space: brick walls, more colorful tile, a constellation of Edison bulbs, and snaking pipes that divide the bar and the 55-seat dining room.
That bar sets the rhythm here. Though there are only a handful of taps — one dispensing rosé cider — there’s a deep selection of canned craft beers, 16 wines by the glass, an eclectic bottle list and an army of spirits. The imaginative cocktails include Lavender and Lace, a frothy blend of gin, lemon and egg white topped by purple swirls, sort of like a gin latte; and a Tequila Ting, a pretty drink framed by a bay leaf and a frozen grapefruit cube.
The drinks are so well-considered that the food sometimes feels more like an accompaniment, rather than the main event. Stick to the sumptuous, such as the short-rib mac-and-cheese, a gooey mass of shells slathered in molten, velvety Cheddar and luscious shreds of short rib, then showered with crumbled Cheez-Its — like a childhood dream in a bowl.
The beets in a roasted beet salad, a special, are roasted to pitch-perfect sweetness, then piled around a decadent glob of bruleéd goat cheese intended for gleeful smearing. And a mound of wobbly burrata infused with truffle oil is heavenly — even if the garlic bread alongside it is rock hard.
Bread misfires are a theme. A $3 “bread service” of a mini-baguette with salted butter is peculiar. The burger, a gastro pub staple, is ample but comes awkwardly balanced on a toasted, crumbling English muffin akin to an ill-fitting coat. A late-night egg sandwich tastes weak and defeated.
Fortunately, you can tack back to succulent, tangy Japanese-style chicken wings. Or an avocado loaded with raw tuna poke slicked with sesame dressing (ignore the mesclun underneath). Or a deeply flavorful soy-marinated and grilled skirt steak, or excellent roasted swordfish. And Crabtree’s mom, Becky, is responsible for the creamy goodness that is vanilla-laced pudding topped with crumbled graham crackers, served in a jar.
As the night wears on, Crabtree’s becomes the hangout that the chef envisioned — boisterous, fun and as buzzy as the crossroads below it. Go with your gut when it comes to the food, and you might be richly rewarded — literally. Just watch the stairs on the way down.