366 New york Ave, Huntington
(631) 547-5388, swallowrestaurant.com
Swallow, in a tiny storefront next to the Paramount Theatre, tiptoed into Huntington Village in 2010. Then in May of this year it did more than expand, it exploded. The easy to miss peewee became a loud destination-dining colossus—a major player in the center of a red-hot restaurant village. Three summers ago it also opened Swallow East, a branch in Montauk.
From the get-go Swallow specialized in small plates and creative spins on familiar dishes. The Brussels sprouts here are caramelized and accompanied by chili flakes, roasted garlic and prosciutto ($9). The ubiquitous French fries ($5) yield rosemary, lemon zest, Parmesan and roasted garlic aioli. More importantly this interesting, diverse food isn’t assembled for its shock value; the ingredients blend, meld and enhance the dishes. They make sense. They belong.
The man responsible for all this creative mixing and matching is execu tive chef Paul Miranda, who presides over both the Montauk and Huntington restaurants. Over a 17-year career he’s perfected his game with stints in Annapolis, Italy and Las Vegas and has worked with gifted chefs like David Bouley and Jean-Louis Palladin. The result of all of this experience is a menu that changes every two weeks and offers some of the most elegant yet unpretentious food on Long Island.
Launch your meal with one of the menu’s $5 snacks, sizable enough for four diners. The chicken liver pâté, served with four huge hunks of grilled crostini topped with parsley and Saba grape mash, is especially recommended. Follow up with two small plates, one from the less expensive top of the menu like the beet salad with whipped goat cheese and pistachios ($10), the wedge salad of iceberg lettuce smothered in a buttermilk dressing studded with tiny tomatoes and bacon ($9), or the wild mushrooms alive with garlic, white wine, shallots and herbs ($8). But the decadent and delicious mac and cheese ($11) should top your picks. It’s made with orzo, not elbow macaroni, and the addition of peas, bacon and Asiago make it a super rich, ethereal delight.
Among the entrées sampled were grit-free steamed mussels with chorizo and saffron in a Cava Rose broth ($14); tender grilled octopus powered by peppers, pomegranate and pancetta ($14) and three soft, ivory-white Vietnamese pork buns stuffed with cucumber, chilies and pickled carrots ($15).
The bargain priced desserts ($4) included a Key lime pie mousse with a Graham cracker base, a deeply-flavored flourless chocolate cake, warm Nutella bread pudding and an exemplary apple pie.