When it comes to gastropub names, "Kitchen & Cocktails" has had the lock for a hot minute. At Husk and Vine Kitchen & Cocktails, which has opened in St. James, parts of that moniker are pretty literal: For instance, the cherry husk that garnishes a twist on an old-fashioned (called Miles from Nowhere) and an extensive list of bourbons and whiskeys (more husk). There are also at least two dozen wines by the glass (the vine), and the lengthy small-plates menu from chef-owner Nicholas Trovato suggests a kinetic, lab-like kitchen.
Earlier this fall, Trovato took over the slim space where Espana Tapas & Wine used to be, renovating it into a taverna of sorts lined with plenty of wood, corrugated metal and rustic touches. Trovato, a French Culinary Institute graduate who has worked in restaurant and country club kitchens for 27 years, said he had long ago cemented the concept for a place with a focus on eclectic small plates, many cooked from sustainably raised and grown meat and produce.
A lengthy bar with 12 taps and a bottlescape of artisanal spirits dominates the Husk & Vine space, with bourbon and craft-beer lists written on chalkboards above drinkers' heads. Bar manager Molly Moulton came up with an extensive cocktail list, which includes inventive twists on margaritas, a cocktail of two kinds of stouts over ice (the Jimmy Hudson), and drinks such as Swine in a Blanket, a blend of bourbon, barrel-aged maple syrup, a corn cob and crispy bacon.
Trovato hopscotches around the world for Husk & Vine with a small plates menu ($8 to $18), from a Wagyu-beef buri bop (vegetable-egg fried rice, beef, bok choy and ponzu) to short-rib tostadas with chipotle-tomatillo salsa, poutine made with polenta fries, tuna poke and a hulking bowl of fried calamari tossed with charred Brussels sprouts and crispy cauliflower. Larger plates ($21 to $47) include herb-roasted, pasture-raised chicken with spinach, gravy and heirloom potatoes, prosciutto-wrapped halibut and seared dry-aged Omaha strip steaks with truffled shoestring fries. A grilled cauliflower steak ($6) is among the sides. "It's an ever-changing menu," Trovato pointed out. He and chef de cuisine Brian Giordano plan to tweak and change it every Wednesday, based on diner tastes and changing ingredients.
Husk & Vine opens daily for lunch and dinner 12: p.m. (at 11 a.m. on Sunday) and is at 655 Middle Country Rd., St. James, 631-250-9616, huskandvineny.com. During happy hour each weekday from 12 to 6 p.m., diners can grab $6 small plates and half-price select drinks.