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LI gastro pubs

An entree of salad and pork skewers is

An entree of salad and pork skewers is served at Public House 49 in Patchogue. (Sept. 4, 2009) Credit: John Griffin

From merrie olde England, land of warm beer and deep-fried everything, comes a whole other breed of tavern: the gastro pub.

The term was coined in 1991 by the owners of The Eagle in London; they wanted it known that their seriously epicurean bar-restaurant was no ordinary bangers-and-mash joint. The term became a buzzword on this side of the pond around 2005, when chef April Bloomfield opened The Spotted Pig in Manhattan's West Village.

So, here on Long Island, how do you know you're at a gastro pub? Try this checklist:

AMBIENCE Warm, pubby, tavern-ish - neither down-and-dirty bar nor plush, chichi restaurant.

MENU Pub comfort classics with a twist (think Kobe beef frankfurters) plus high-style dishes (such as tuna sashimi or pappardelle with wild mushrooms).

PRICES Somewhere between neighborhood pub and fine dining establishment.

BREWS There should be go-with-the-food selections; some variety, on tap and/or in bottle; and when possible, local beverages, too.

Here are six Long Island gastro pubs, each with its own personality:

PERABELL FOOD BAR, 114 W. Main St., Patchogue, 631-447-7766,

Food 2 1/2 stars

The bar upfront is often packed, the dining space a bit cramped, but PeraBell Food Bar doesn't stint on service or food quality. Chef John Peragine shows his stuff in such dishes as the Asian-inflected ahi tuna and mango tartare, lettuce wraps and Thai glazed short ribs as well as the New American cedar-roasted salmon and braised lamb shank over olive mashed potatoes. The mini burgers are must-orders.

The prices $$-$$$

The brews The selections change seasonally. Now on draft, Paulaner Hefeweizen, Sierra Nevada India Pale Ale, and Blue Point's Winter Ale and Hoptical Illusion. The bottled beers are standard, including gluten-free and nonalcoholic choices.

F.H. RILEY'S, 400 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-271-7600,

Food 2 stars

There's a bar upfront, a rustic dining space in the rear, and a roster of well-crafted classics and regional American specialties to be eaten. Start with chef-owner Brett Hughes' "autumn harvest" salad (greens, fruit, nuts and warm sweet potato gnocchi croutons). The blue claw gumbo is all about sass and comfort. Other specialties include a blackened salmon pita, a Gruyère-capped meat loaf (veal, pork and sirloin) and good old-fashioned English fish and chips.

The prices $$

The brews Thirteen on draft, among them the lively Magic Hat #9, Spaten Oktoberfest, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Yuengling Traditional Lager. Red Stripe, Chimay Red and Long Trail Belgian White lead the bottlings.

GREY HORSE TAVERN,  291 Bayport Ave., Bayport, 631-472-1868,

Food 2 1/2 stars

An enclosed dining porch wraps around the handsome bar and dining room of this beautifully restored old house. Ingredients are carefully sourced, with an eye toward the local and organic. That ethos is delectably exemplified in a grill-pressed Berkshire pork sandwich and an entree of roasted half Murray's chicken with caramelized cippolini risotto; baby vegetables are impeccable, the burger is a dream and a finale of warm beignets with dipping sauces is required eating.

The prices $$-$$$$

The brews Bottled beers headed by Ommegang's Three Philosophers, Rogue's German-style Dead Guy Ale, a trio from Samuel Smith's Tadcaster brewery, a quartet of Belgians, including Chimay Red and Chimay Blue, and classic Pilsner Urquell.

THE BRASS RAIL,  107 Forest Ave., Locust Valley, 516-723-9103

Food 3 stars

The 19th century bar from the legendary Brass Rail restaurant in Manhattan is just one attraction at this welcoming pub where chef-owner Kent Monkan puts out an imaginative array of small plates plus a few large ones. You'll find oxtail sloppy joes, irresistible franks in blankets, a knockout king crab salad, and succulent lamb chops "Wu" style. Main courses include steak frites and a grilled Berkshire pork chop. And let's not forget Monkan's killer burger au poivre.

The prices $-$$$

The brews Familiar choices on tap and in bottle. The drafts include the excellent Anchor Steam, plus Hennepin Beer from upstate's Ommegang Brewery, Samuel Adams Winter Lager and Southampton Altbier. Bottles include Becks, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Peroni.

PUBLIC HOUSE 49,  49 E. Main St., Patchogue, 631-569-2767,

Food 3 stars

This revved-up ultramodern gastro pub morphs into a disco late at night. Come before 10 p.m., and you can indulge in the luxe comfort food of chef (and operatic tenor) Richard Desmond. Some winners: trio of turnovers, field green salad topped with skewers of grilled pork, roast pork belly and seared scallops with Bing cherry sauce and the so-satisfying Kobe beef frank on flatbread.

The prices $$

The brews Ten draft picks, including Newcastle Brown Ale, Ithaca Apricot Wheat, the blond Sixpoint Sweet Action, Guinness and Blue Point Winter Ale. Basic bottlings, among them Red Stripe, Heineken, Stella Artois.

CANTERBURY'S OYSTER BAR & GRILL, 46 Audrey Avenue, Oyster Bay, 516-922-3614

Food 1 1/2 stars

The spirit of Teddy Roosevelt looms large at this pub/New England-style fish house where riveting archival photos surround you. If it's oysters you crave, Canterbury's has what's fresh and in season, from Long Island Pipes Cove to Kumamotos from the West Coast. Signature dishes include a grand seafood "tower," tuna sashimi, pulled pork sliders, Kobe beef hot dog en croute and entrees ranging from fish and chips to porcini crusted ocean scallops.

The prices $$-$$$

The brews A serious, well-chosen bottled list from 13 countries, mostly American, Belgian, English and German. And on tap, currently look for Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA, Brooklyn Pilsner, Blue Point Oatmeal Stout and Guinness.


Average meal price per person:

$$$$ = $100, $$$ = $60, $$ = $30, $ = $15

4 stars Exceptional

3 stars Excellent

2 stars Very good

1 star Good

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