One would think that with a nickname of “Meatlovin’ Man” my husband would have been the first person to want to save our supply of frozen meats from defrosting during our power outage, courtesy of Hurricane Irene. However it was me who was making calls and pimping myself out with promises of future meals for any nice soul who could spare some space in their freezer until our power returned. Our friend MT happily offered her completely empty second freezer, our meats were harbored safely through the storm, and once power was returned MT even drove them over to return them home. After the meats were safely back into their own frozen bed, we turned our attention to dinner. And there was one place I’ve been dying to try: Huntington Social.
We’d been to Huntington Social for a drink in mid-summer when it first opened up and were impressed with the new decor, a vast and classy departure from the dark, dank Chesterfields that previously inhabited the space. Whimsical murals of both regal and naughty monkeys let you know as you walk in that Huntington Social aims to show you a good time. Lush red velvet banquettes and large curved booths lend a feeling of cozy elegance, and the long bar with plenty of seating is classic with low amber lighting, making everyone instantly more attractive. This second time we went with dining in mind, and we’re happy to report that the food was attractive as well.
Veal Cheek Banh Mi Sliders with Citrus Sesame Aioli ($12)
Tender, juicy hunks of veal were sandwiched in soft sesame-seeded buns, with shredded carrots, cilantro and that citrus aioli giving them a bright kick. These didn’t last long on the plate, and I’d order them again in a heartbeat. We had 3 people, and were given 3 sliders. I do like a restaurant that helps its patrons avoid awkward food stand-offs.
Mary’s Meatballs with Creamy Polenta ($10)
Oh-so-light meatballs (I’m guessing veal) with a perfect Mama Italiano-style sauce covering them, nestled in a pool of creamy polenta with a cap of shaved parmesan cheese and basil leaf. While MT thought the meatballs lacked spices, MM and I found them to be delightful. And again, 3 meatballs meant we each enjoyed one without argument.
Tuna Sashimi with Coconut, Pickled Pineapple, Thai Curry Sauce ($16)
Incredibly fresh tuna was made even better by the light touches of coconut, pineapple and curry sauce. If you like tuna, you’re going to like this. Yes, that’s MT’s arm in the photo because she didn’t want to let this dish get too far away from her.
Wedge Salad with Smoked Bacon, Oven Dried Tomatoes, Bleu Cheese Dressing ($10)
While more of a thick slice of lettuce than an actual wedge, we loved the presentation of this salad along with the taste. Roasting the grape tomatoes gave them a deeper flavor that stood up nicely against the bacon and hunks of bleu cheese in the dressing. A sprinkle of chives and croutons topped it all off. It’s worth noting that this salad was a nice, manageable size, unlike some restaurants’ wedge salads where your appetite is killed off before your main arrives.
Truffled Egg Toast with Arugula and Pickled Onions ($9)
Oh yes! I’d easily eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. A thick, slightly sweet slab of bread drizzled with truffle oil coddled a poached egg topped with peppery arugula and sweet-tart pickled onions. Cutting into the center of the egg, I watched as the yolk oozed out and was soaked up by the bread, then promptly put every last bite into my mouth while making happy sounds. A superstar on their menu!
Grilled Fontina Cheese Sandwich with Braised Short Ribs and Onion Rings ($16)
Cutting the crusts off was a cute reference to childhood, but I have to say I was not blown away by this sandwich. MT also ordered this and after we each took a bite we looked at each other and went “Meh”. There’s something missing from this dish that would give it that extra “Oomph” factor that we were experiencing in all of our appetizers and had come to expect from this chef by the time our mains rolled around. Even the onion rings were average. I wouldn’t order it again as my mouth did not sing and I was left craving something else after struggling to get through this surprisingly average grilled cheese.
Grilled NY Strip Steak with Green Asparagus and Peppercorn Sauce ($31)
The strip steak was tender, if slightly undercooked to order (MM ordered Medium Rare and it came out Rare). Our waiter happily offered to throw it back on the grill but it already had the sauce on it and MM didn’t want the hassle so he channeled his inner Frenchie and made his way through most of the steak. The meat was tender, and the sauce had a hint of citrus to it that I found refreshingly different. The accompanying side of asparagus was fine, but I would have liked some roasted fingerlings or pureed turnips to go along with it. Meatlovin’ Man said it was rather average as far as steaks go.
Service: I’d like to congratulate the folks who trained the staff at Huntington Social. Everyone was genuinely nice to us and walking in on a Friday night without a reservation was met with a smile not a sneer. When my glass of red wine came to the table and tasted a little “off”, they hurried it away and opened up a fresh bottle at the table in front of me, allowing me to taste it first (quite nice this time). When our entrees seemed to be taking longer than usual, just as we realized it our waiter did a pre-emptive strike by coming over to our table on his own and saying “Looks like it’s been a while for your food, let me see what’s going on” and soon thereafter our food arrived. Drinks and water were replenished while empty plates were whisked away in a timely manner. Throughout the evening there were 2 attractive gentlemen who were dressed in suit & tie, seemingly gliding across the dining room and checking in on patrons as well as delivering meals and pouring wine. This lent an air of polished service that is usually only found in higher-end restaurants, and we loved feeling taken care of on a casual Friday night.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for interesting specialty “speak easy” drinks, this is a great place to go for a romantic date night or with some of your classier friends. The small plates of nibbles & appetizers are inventive and well executed, but I wouldn’t necessarily go back for the mains. Perhaps I tried the wrong entrees and it’s the Lamb Cassoulet or HS Burger that will change my thinking? Whatever you choose to enjoy, you will be treated very well in a swank setting and please do send my regards to that Monkey with the vodka bottle when you visit the loo.
Details: Huntington Social / 330 New York Avenue @ corner of Main Street, upstairs / Huntington NY 11743 / 631-923-2442