Wild Honey on Main sweetens dining out downtown. It's the very welcome, western offspring of Wild Honey in Oyster Bay.
The flavor-packed restaurant fills the baguette-shaped storefront recently occupied by Bistro du Village with savory, wide-ranging and very good cooking. The theme is regional American, but there are high notes from elsewhere, too.
So, claim one of the 32 seats at the cozy, comfortable place, where the artwork is easygoing and the style is openhanded. Tina O'Brien and Robert O'Brien run the two Honeys; these days, she's in Port Washington and he's in Oyster Bay. Either way, you're in luck.
Chef Roberto Baez oversees the two Honey kitchens. His hits here include a lively chile-and-pork tostada, with avocado and snappy pico de gallo relish; and a soulful smoked-and-skewered kielbasa paired with a horseradish-and-sauerkraut potato croquette, finished with hot mustard. The second one signals an end to summer and a preview of Oktoberfest.
Honey-mustard dipping sauce is a foil for tidy, sauteed Maryland crab claws. Baked Pine Island oysters, enriched with spinach and shallots, also stand out. The obligatory fried calamari: better than usual, boosted by a Thai-seasoned barbecue sauce and pickled Asian vegetables. The "cracklin'" pork shank, juicy if not exactly crisp, plays off saffron-tinted risotto, plus stewed Spanish onion and bell peppers. A square of Gruyère-and-potato gratin gilds the tender, boneless rib-eye steak. Seaside, the citrus-and-poppy-seed-glazed salmon swims in moist and mild, accompanied by toasted-chive spaetzle. Purists will enjoy the iron-skillet mussels. Jalapeño-spiked macaroni-and-cheese leads the side orders. The irresistible dessert: a childhood combo dubbed "cake & shake" - a smooth, warm chocolate cake opposite a miniature vanilla milk shake.
Chili coconut prawns are more cloying than spicy, in a sweet-chile-and-coconut sauce. Pan-seared striped bass is slightly less overcooked than the pan-seared sea bass. Dry peach cake. No nostalgia for the S'mores pie, though the iron-skillet presentation is cute.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Two is better than one.