Swallow builds a little nest in downtown Huntington. The flavors, however, are very big.
This cozy eatery, which squeezes in about 20 lean diners, moved into the storefront vacated by Kozy Kettle, for years the go-to destination for soups. And the overhaul is dramatic, turning the space into a candlelit, exposed-brick spot, decorated with a vintage cabinet holding cookbooks, TVs tuned to ESPN and The Travel Channel, and an F-train subway sign, pointing to Parsons Boulevard and Kings Highway.
Chef and co-owner James Tchinnis specializes in small-plate cooking, delivering portions that are more than a standard-size appetizer but less than a full-blown main course. Figure about two per person. But you'll want to eat more. No alcoholic beverages yet. BYO.
A refreshing Japanese cucumber salad, with snow crab, seaweed and roe-flecked wasabi gets things going. Likewise, the thyme-spiked beet salad with carrot and honey, plus a mousse of goat cheese. A mellower starter is the lush mushroom risotto. Soups are led by a cup of silken, slightly sweet butternut-squash "cappuccino." A duet of juicy, Black Angus beef sliders arrives with Tabasco-seasoned mayo and tomato jam. The scent of cinnamon announces a light, savory beef moussaka crowned with a béchamel cloud that's flavored with Asiago cheese. And a rich confit of chicken thigh rests on refried lentils. Pasta alert: spaghetti in a homey pork ragu. Very good "candy cane" crème brûlée, for a holiday touch; and a hazelnut version, fine year-round.
Spice-rubbed shrimp is a visit to the salt lick. Macaroni and cheese has the texture of overworked rice pudding. Peanut butter-cream cheese mousse doesn't rescue the double-chocolate cake. The ice-cream sandwich, chocolate-chip cookies with strawberry ice cream, looks better than it tastes.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Take a bite.