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Hatch review: Cheerful brunch spot offers great cocktails, large portions in Huntington

At Hatch in Huntington,  executive chef Billy Muzio explains how to make pineapple upside-down pancakes on Monday, June 4, 2018. (Credit: Daniel Brennan)

HATCH

286 Main St., Huntington

631-424-0780, hatchbrunch.com

COST: $$

SERVICE: Charismatic but maybe overly relaxed, given the frenetic pace of weekend brunch

AMBIENCE: As cheerful as can be, with bright colors, funky leather booths, blasting music and great people watching

ESSENTIALS: Open daily 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; major credit cards accepted; wheelchair accessible; street parking can be challenging in Huntington. Gluten-free options, such as pancakes, are available. Prepare to wait for a table at most times.

Going out for weekend brunch these days takes fortitude, especially when it feels like half the world is jockeying for the same reservation-less tables. At Hatch, the airy new brunch place on Main Street in Huntington, this exchange took place every few minutes on a recent Sunday:

New arrival: “How long is the wait for two people?”

Poker-faced hostess: “About an hour.”

Half the time, the visitors didn’t flinch, and instead left their cell numbers to be texted when a table was ready. (At Hatch, you are free to wander while you wait.) Such is the dedication of those willing to wait for weekend omelets and pancakes.

So opening a brunch place on a prominent Huntington corner — the spot where Tomo Hibachi closed last year, and the iconic Hamburger Choo Choo once dwelled — was a wise move for Lessings, the family-run company that operates many other restaurants and catering spots. “We feel that [brunch] is kind of untapped on Long Island,” said Mark Lessing, Lessings’ executive vice president, on the eve of Hatch’s opening in April.

He was prescient: Hatch was almost instantly popular. The place also feeds its own mystique by being quite a looker: The facade is a moody gray-blue, which makes its sunshine-yellow front doors pop. Inside, the blue-and-yellow theme continues, from wallpaper to tabletop patterns, plus funky lighting and comfy booths along the dining room’s edges. In the center, a cluster of round, golden-yellow booths evoke both eggs and a sense of drama. Blasting ‘80s anthems feed a noise level that flirts with deafening. In the back is a bar/counter where you might snag a quicker seat, and that turns out some excellent cocktails, including blood-orange mimosas and a smoked pineapple mojito that could compete with some of the craftier bars in town.

Despite the booze, Hatch does not waver from its daily brunch menu, and closes at 3 p.m. each afternoon. This spot is all about the first (and maybe second) meal of the day. The cheerful vibe seems carefully cultivated — from the color scheme to charismatic servers — but the approach to service is relaxed. The pace with which orders are taken, and dishes appear, throws the long waits into focus. Order some of the excellent coffee, from nearby Southdown Coffee, early on to keep you sustained.

Hatch’s dishes are generously portioned and carefully composed, almost to a fault; one senses that the kitchen, headed by chef William Muzio, might struggle to keep pace with demand during busier times. A three-egg omelet — you choose the filling — is perfectly turned out, though when stuffed with caramelized onions, bacon and Cheddar (they don’t do American at Hatch) was scant on cheese. That same melted Cheddar was copious on a sturdy “New York classic” breakfast sandwich layered with scrambled eggs and more of that Nueske’s bacon — its strong smoked applewood component tends to dominate — on a springy, clever, everything brioche.

Mexican-style breakfast dishes dot the menu; Hatch’s breakfast tacos (three to an order) are refreshing: Toasty tortillas, a moist scramble, really fresh pico de gallo, a touch of melted Jack cheese. My only quibble was they didn’t come with avocado, which must be ordered on the side.

Speaking of avocado, Hatch has the requisite avocado toast, but I opted instead for a caloric Godfather, one of six versions of eggs Benedict on the menu — toasted sourdough draped with prosciutto, melted taleggio cheese and two perfectly poached eggs whose yolks oozed in Instagramable fashion when broken. Its hollandaise was threaded with a needle-thin drizzle of balsamic vinegar that added pop.

Buttermilk pancakes find exuberant expression here, as in pineapple upside-down pancakes that were not upside down at all but instead anointed with tasty vanilla-rum creme anglaise and roasted pineapple, and served with Vermont maple syrup. (A French toast we ordered never materialized, but Hatch serves three versions, including one stuffed with peanut butter and banana.)

Hatch’s corned beef, tinged with warming spices and maybe even juniper, is luscious and habit-forming; it underlies a hulking corned-beef hash as well as a messy but triumphant Reuben, one of only a few lunch sandwiches on the menu. It has a perfect ratio of meat to rye to melted Swiss to sauerkraut, with dressing on the side, and comes with potato “tots” for that vintage touch.

Is brunch necessarily about the food, or about the experience? It’s a bit of both, probably, and Hatch scores marks on both sides of the equation.

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