INDUSTRY STANDARD BAR
45 Front St., Greenport
AMBIENCE: Reclaimed barn meets the bar
ESSENTIALS: Lunch, Monday to Friday noon to 4 p.m.; Dinner, Monday to Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday noon to 11 p.m., Sunday noon to 9 p.m.; wheelchair-accessible, street parking, no reservations, accepts major credit cards.
At Industry Standard Bar in Greenport, Greg Ling displays a sense humor. On a menu he changes often — be it snacks, soups, sides, sandwiches and specials — some dishes deliver straightforward fare to please the fussiest diner. Others show a barely contained exuberance and a cheekiness that courts those in the restaurant industry visiting after shift. Hence the venue’s name.
Note that it’s Industry Standard “bar” not “kitchen,” a point reinforced upon entering the place and seeing bar shelves that display a liquor store’s worth of bottles.
That’s not to say that this spot is for boozers. The drink menus are tight and curated, with cocktails earning witty, goofy or provocative names. Take the Sumpin’ Sumpin’, with Titos vodka, Licor 43, lime and muddled strawberry that’s perfectly in season. The bourbon drink called Broken Promise delivers the sour note with lemonade.
If cocktails aren’t in the cards, there’s a fantastic salty ale, Nastro Azzurro and a good handful of session beers with alcohol levels around 5 percent. Wine drinkers have six choices on an $8 list that includes a sparkling, a rosé, two whites and two reds. Fittingly for the North Fork location, New York wineries seed the list.
“Don’t call him chef,” says the bartender, referring to Ling, when I asked about a dish I was ordering for dinner. It’s a refreshing distinction these days, since “chef” is often uttered with the same reverence as calling a priest “father.” The distinction reinforces Ling’s desire to keep things light.
But he’s definitely not goofing off on his menu. The $5 burger is a win, a little 5-ounce number layered with a fried egg and American cheese, finished with a perfect leaf of romaine. Every bite is fantastic — and messy. I’m sure it would be even better with add-ons such as lobster tail and avocado, both offered on the menu.
The cheesesteak points to Ling’s Philadelphia roots, with shaved rib eye blanketed with a choice of provolone, Swiss or homemade beer wiz. The latter is the obvious choice.
A quick detour here to talk about the occasional secret menu, which often has the night’s best sandwich. To find it, you have to head to Instagram to the restaurant’s handle, @industrystandardkitchen. When it’s available, open the app when you get seated, and let the server know what you’d like to order. Like any secret, it’s not something to discuss in the open. Don’t call and ask about it unless you want the “What secret menu?” response.
That menu’s banh mi can be enthralling, made on a crusty house-baked roll, stuffed with cubes of pork loin that mingle with house-made cucumber and daikon pickles, hoisin and jalapeño. Stems of cilantro stick out like an unruly tuft.
You’d find those cucumbers in the smashed cucumber salad: thin slivers wearing a mix of spicy sesame and black garlic vinaigrette and a confetti of scallions. The spears at the bottom of the bowl are savory, yet sweet on top, a jarring contrast.
Shishito peppers have truffle aioli painting the sides of a bowl, nuggets of foie gras kissed by char, studding the bottom like miniature babies hidden in a Mardi Gras king cake. This is an example of the exuberance I mentioned. The chicken dishes can be another display of it, such as the fried chicken dinner, available Southern yardbird or Vietnamese style. I went for the latter, which translated to a trough of fried rice, a side of nuoc mam pha — fish sauce for dipping — and more than a handful of unseasoned veggies. While the chicken is crisp and juicy, the rest of the dish feels slapdash.
The ice-cream sandwich for dessert is decisively distinct. A halved doughnut with a giant scoop of vanilla in between, it’s rolled in rainbow sprinkles before serving, a visual reminder that they’re having fun here.