Marc Bynum is headed south. The chef, who most recently headed up Huntington’s Hush Bistro and MB Ramen, is no longer working with his partners there, Reststar Hospitality Group. The three-time Chopped champion has decamped to Bay Shore where his new venture, Fatwood Southern Kitchen, opened on Wednesday.
Bynum has always had a jones for barbecue — in 2016 his ribs were touted on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine, as “the best ribs Gayle’s ever tasted” — and at Fatwood, smoking is front and center on the menu: Pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket, smoked sausage and those St. Louis ribs all issue from the big Southern Pride smoker. Most platters are about $17 and come with pickled cabbage and one side. Smoked meats (as well as Tennessee hot chicken and burgers, both beef and vegetarian “Impossible”) show up in sandwiches too, $11 to $17, hand-cut fries included.
Nonsmokers have plenty of choices: fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, jambalaya rice balls, fried chicken, fried catfish, a “soul bowl” of Southern-inflected ramen noodles. Appetizers range from $8 to $12, mains from $17 to $23.
Bynum’s partners at Fatwood are Greg Mogil, Peter Petrakis and Drew Dvorkin. Dvorkin is also a partner at Local Burger Co. (Bay Shore and Patchogue) as well as other pubs on the Island and in New York City, and he has been working on opening Fatwood for two years. Delays, infuriating at the time, gave him plenty of time to work out every physical element. Working with designer Dawn Murnak, he came up with a scheme that looks every inch the modern-retro barbecue joint: weathered brick and wood predominate, with accents of metal and subway tile.
But it’s the details that make the place: individually hand-tooled leather menu covers; narrow paper sacks that hold fork, knife and napkin; door handles made from meat cleavers. Over the bar is an American flag rendered in red, white and blue Budweiser cans. It’s flanked on the left by a liquor menu that includes “easy drinkin” and “fancy” beers as well as “decent white” and “pretty good red” wines. On the right is a sign reading “No public Wi-Fi. Conversation is a lost art.”
Dvorkin relishes Fatwood’s location. On the edge of Bay Shore village, it’s a block away from Southside Hospital whose staff and visitors, he expects, “need a little comfort.” In a larger sense, he’s hoping Fatwood will be a haven and a gathering place. “We are all so stressed,” he said, “but there are still good things in the world. Like barbecue.”
“Fatwood,” the menu explains, by the way, is “any wood used for kindling, especially the resinous wood from the stump of a pine tree.”
Fatwood Southern Kitchen is at 150 E. Main St., Bay Shore, 631-665-1256, fatwoodsouthernkitchen.com