54 New St, Huntington
(631) 385-1919, truenorthrestaurant.com
I follow chefs. The good ones often move around a bit. But I figure if their cooking is good in one restaurant and they move to another, even if it’s a different style, it probably will be good there too. All of which brings us to Paul Miranda. Although he cooked in Washington D.C., Manhattan and here on the Island, I caught up with him for the first time when he was the corporate chef and kitchen commander at Swallow in Huntington Village.
He’s still in Huntington Village and he’s still turning out solid food. Now he’s the executive chef and co-owner of True North, a gastropub at 54 New Street where Vitae had been.
True North is a basic, no nonsense, no pretense place with bare tables and floors, and a sizeable and separate bar room complete with television sets. Although it isn’t particularly fancy, it offers a diverse, interesting menu of bar snacks, small plates, large plates and sizable portions at sensible prices. On Monday nights those prices, at least for alcoholic drinks, are slimmed down even further. Cocktails and glasses of wine are half price and $2 are deducted from all of their high-end beers.
Speaking of reasonable prices, a ton of thin, grease-free house-made fries, garnished with duck fat, herbs and sea salt with a black pepper aioli dip cost only $6. Three humongous grilled baguettes slathered with chicken pâté and accompanied by several tiny, tasty cornichons also went for $6. But don’t neglect the most expensive bar snack, the three Korean barbeque pork buns packed with substantial pork bellies, cucumbers, mint and pickled carrots ($15).
Three muscular mixtures led the small plate parade. Tender grilled octopus chunks came with chickpeas, pancetta romesco and preserved lemon ($14) and fingerling potatoes were combined with shishito, paprika and aioli ($12). Unfortunately the house-made ricotta gnocchi ($14) was leaden, rather than feathery light.
We sampled only two large plates and both scored: a Fred Flintstone, take-home-size chili rubbed pork shank with a vigorous, minerally flavor and a lot of company—veggies, herbs, steamed buns and garlic sauce ($24). And two lovely, buttery sautéed skate fillets surrounding a heap of rubbery collard greens ($23).
Desserts ($7) were weaker than other courses consisting of a below average slice of tres leches, two unimpressive pumpkin glazed donuts and a small but rich, rewarding ice cream sandwich.
Don’t be surprised if you have to wait a bit more than is ideal for each course, service drags at times.