Imperial Meat Company
279 Main St, Huntington
(631) 824-6222, imcrestaurant.com
The storefront restaurant site at 279 Main St, right in the center of red-hot Huntington Village, draws restaurateurs’ never-ending attention. In October the West Hampton’s Buoy One was replaced by Brighton Beach’s Imperial Meat Company and the flashy, trendy new digs represent a complete 360-degree departure from the rustic previous occupant.
Imperial Meat Company is, as you might expect, a meat-centric restaurant. It features a tall, backlit bar, a row of glass-covered floor inserts containing brightly lit wine bottles, a cross-beamed ceiling, resplendent chandeliers, candles and framed decorative fireplaces set into the walls.
Its thoughtfully constructed, cutting-edge menu is as upscale as its décor. Executive chef Alex Tchernikov, who knows his way around a kitchen as a result of stints at 11 Madison Park and Tao in Manhattan, turns out a diverse array of appealing New American and international dishes. Most of them are bull’s-eyes.
Along with the predictable steaks ($24 to $54), lamb chops ($24), burger ($25), chicken for two ($35), striped bass ($24) and branzino ($24), the menu also showcases beef or pig cheeks with spaetzle ($20 and $18), rabbit confit ragu ($20), pheasant ($24) and quails stuffed with foie gras and risotto ($18).
These main courses and equally creative appetizers deliver ingredients like roasted bone marrow, pepperoni chips, roasted figs, parsnip purée and amaretto peach jam. Dinners begin with an amuse bouche of bite-sized filet mignon and duck rillette tidbits.
Aside from three rather dry braised ox tail sliders ($14) with but a speck (if that) of the listed mustard-horse radish dressing, the other starters sampled satisfied. A splendid cream of porcini mushroom soup ($10) was a comforting dish on a cold night. Light, airy kale and quinoa salad ($12) is both excellent and relatively healthful with its diverse mix of quinoa, kale, walnuts, avocado, roasted corn, cilantro and jalapeno vinaigrette. The rich, filling portion of lobster mac and cheese made with smoked Gouda and white truffle oil ($14), is enough for two or three diners.
Entrées, like appetizers, went three for four. Aside from a Wagyu skirt steak ($24) so tough it would make shoe leather seem tender, all entrées scored. They included succulent beef cheeks stylishly presented with a miniature iron skillet of spaetzle, mushy but tasty rabbit confit ragu and two stuffed quails with a slightly sweet undertone.
Of the four desserts sampled, the warm slab of apple strudel with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream ($10) and a gelato sampler featuring four flavors ($12) ranked one and two. Diners seeking civilized conversation should opt for the rear dining room and avoid tables near the noise of the bar crowd. All diners should be ready to defend their dishes from busboys that pounce on them the instant the last bite is taken and sometimes even before that.