43 Green Street, Huntington
(631) 351-3446, storyvilleamericantable.com
The corn bread is warm, the jazz is hot, the portions are large, the prices are manageable and the Cajun-Creole food is good at Storyville, a year-old New Orleans-style restaurant in Huntington Village. It does justice to the Big Easy with its food, music, décor and welcoming, comfortable spirit.
Storyville is a casual, classy place set within a tall-windowed, wraparound porch with plenty of outdoor tables. It boasts brick columns, skylights, pressed tin ceilings, candles, a community table and strings of tiny colored lights and window decorations reminiscent of the lace patterns found on French Quarter balconies. All of this displays a commendable level of forethought. The two partners who did all that planning and thinking are Tom Curry (previously at Rose and Thistle) and Brian Finn, the chef who was a sous chef at the Waldorf and an executive toque at the La Joya Country Club in California. They envisioned Storyville 20 years ago but were not able to realize the dream until recently. Storyville now occupies most of Finley’s of Greene Street—although Finley’s Bar Room is still open and jumping with a robust young crowd that tends to stand at or near its bar. It’s where most of the drinkers gravitate while the convivial Storyville (the red light district of New Orleans in the early 1900s) caters more to eaters.
All the little touches here are encouraging. Newcomers are presented with strings of beads and the iced tea is bottomless. The live jazz trio at the Sunday brunch ($21.95) is a mellow, appropriate, even soothing accompaniment to the meal. Three types of BBQ sauces are available on every table, all but two desserts cost $7, most bottles of wine are in the $19 range, the butter is soft and the service is swift.
Although a substantial portion of the menu offers basic American with some Asian, Middle Eastern and even African possibilities, a good 80 percent of diners order the Cajun-Creole dishes. And why not? Storyville fills a gap in the increasingly diverse Island dining scene. There are only four or five restaurants featuring New Orleans dishes—all but one of them in Nassau.
The mandatory starter for NOLA lovers is gumbo ($4.95). It’s packed with ingredients but is scorching—its back-of-the-throat spiciness is certainly not for timid souls. Less volatile are plump charbroiled oysters crowned with a non-threatening cheesy mornay sauce before being broiled to a golden brown hue ($7.95-14.95). After that go with the tried and true traditional New Orleans classics.
A full rack of the dry-rubbed MacDaddy baby back ribs consists of about 16 ribs ($18.95). The tender, mellow, long smoked meat on them literally falls away from the bone upon the slightest touch. Three cornflake-coated catfish fillets were crisp outside from pan frying and moist inside with a side of rémoulade dipping sauce ($16.95), unfortunately it was escorted by tasteless rice. The jumble of fire and rice jambalaya, with its Caribbean, Spanish and African touches, harbors plenty of andouille sausage, chicken, beef and ham ($13.95-15.95). It’s a timeless, delicious mess enmeshed in rice infused with seafood stock. Mild, very blandly sauced grits are an offset for jumbo shrimp ($15.95). On the vegetable side, two typically Southern items rarely seen up North make worthy accompaniments to the main events: A huge basket of fried green tomatoes is paired with a smoked onion dip and crunchy fried pickles made on the premises with Storyville’s house spices, add zest to all these Big Easy dishes ($7.95 each).
Although there are seven or eight desserts we had the capacity for only one, a formidable square of bread pudding with a vanilla bourbon sauce ($7, it fed two).
Photo by Pam Deutchman / thefphoto.com