This year definitely has its Dark Horse.
The new restaurant rides onto Main Street with very good food and casual style. It's associated with nearby Tweed's, but Dark Horse stars on its own with executive chef Jeffrey Trujillo's American cuisine, new and traditional.
There's a handsome bar, in wood and metal; and, opposite it, an array of memorabilia collected from departed destinations including The Stork Club and Herb McCarthy's Bowden Square.
Posters extol Louis Armstrong on WNEW, the Suffolk Downs Horse Racing Game, Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," "Gone With the Wind" in French, tomato juice and Johnnie Walker, railroads and lower Manhattan. A lit fireplace and an artful screen are positioned almost at the same height as the dining room's exposed ductwork. Dark banquettes play off the area's sunny shades. Silvery chairs mirror the bar's decorative accents. Consider the look eclectic.
And judge the roasted-shell shrimp bisque delectable. Or sample some raw oysters and clams; maybe, grilled oysters. Nibble on an updated Cobb salad, minus the poultry but with red onion; or its brasserie counterpart, with chopped greens, roasted beets and blue cheese. Then, move on to the duck two ways - tender, rosy sliced breast and rich confit of leg, with local peach-preserve sauce, creamed spinach and almond rice. If Peconic Bay scallops are among the specials, order them: a sweet, nutty, buttery saute. Neighboring Tweed's offers lots of bison. Here, try the excellent, tender bison filet and the multiburger, two bison burgers with fries. You can continue this route with split, roasted bison marrow bones. The whole, young chicken with green-tomato chutney heightens the competition, as do short ribs, steak frites and the pork tenderloin in a red-wine reduction. The build-your-own ice-cream sandwich suits Dark Horse.
A dry plate of charcuterie, with ultrasalty duck prosciutto and arid bison pastrami; dull smoked turkey confit with brown lentil salad; standard onion soup; underseasoned pumpkin custard.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Downtown's new spark.