In Speonk, what's Olde is what's new.
Shoot pool, have a beer, enjoy the talk -- and then figure out whether you're up for the duck confit or the lemon.grass pork.
Yes, the Olde Speonk Inn covers more territory than Eli Manning.
Very cozy, with a double-shot of quaint, the inn has year-round appeal. But it attracts you even more when the leaves turn color, and the establishment becomes equal parts eatery and refuge.
The dining room keeps a summery glow, in creamy white, with proper blue accents. It's decorated with assorted posters and images of wine, plus one picture each extolling espresso and cappuccino. Window ledges sport mini-topiaries of squirrels and rabbits in a style reminiscent of deluxe Chia Pet. Bentwood chairs abound. In the background, the whisper of Nat King Cole's "Stardust" gives way to Sinatra's declaration, "I've Got the World on a String."
"Classic American cuisine" is the description used at the Inn, and the definition takes in Roquefort-whipped potatoes and polenta. The Olde joint claims plenty of nouvelleties, too.
You'll like the appetizer salads. The roasted beet number with horseradish-sherry vinaigrette; and the arugula production with roasted red peppers and shaved Parmesan stand out.
The Maryland crabcake, however, shows up blackened even more than all those Reagan-era redfish. And the roasted calamari, finished with harissa-spurred aioli, require an extra set of incisors. Baked mussels benefit from aromatic Pernod butter, but the shellfish aren't too plump.
Linguine, tossed with rock shrimp, pancetta, spinach and a lemon basil-white wine sauce: mezzo-mezzo. But the seared sea scallops, bolstered by truffle oil and a kalamata olive tapenade, get the appetite going again.
Likewise, the seared yellowfin tuna, accompanied by mango-papaya salsa; and the herb-crusted swordfish finished with beurre blanc. Pan-roasted striped bass, in either a Thai red curry broth or guava emulsion, also swims ahead.
Mascarpone-laced polenta elevates the standard pan-roasted chicken. Seared duck breast is on the chewy side, but the tasty confit of duck leg and thigh almost saves the dish.
Grilled flatiron steak, a juicy and increasingly popular cut, is recommended. The competition is from a grilled New York sirloin. The lemongrass-skewered pork chop, thick and expertly impaled, brings in a diverting Asian accent. Go west with the pork chop paired with savory bread pudding.
Very good creme brulee leads the sweets, followed by Holy Moses cheesecake. The Granny Smith apple tart arrives as a pasty pie wedge; the white chocolate mousse, a synonym for bland.
Instead, nibble on housemade almond biscotti, and think about the next big thing: pumpkin pie.
Reviewed by Peter M. Gianotti, 10/9/05.