26 Clinton Ave, Huntington
Scene: Raucous, bustling
What is a chef like Michael Meehan doing in a place like Vauxhall? The much awarded Meehan is known for his creative cooking at upscale, often luxurious restaurants like The Mill River Inn, Tupelo Honey and H2O. Vauxhall is a tiny, boisterous gastropub. “This is a restaurant of the time. Fine dining, white tablecloth places are fading while bistro-style places are becoming more popular,” said Meehan.
From the get-go at 4pm, big bar action rules (sometimes two or three deep). By 6pm Vauxhall is packed with a youngish, upbeat crowd. And it is a scene; a noisy, sizzling, loud scene that makes it almost impossible to even hear the music. This is not the place for conversation.
Unsurprisingly, beer is the drink of choice. There are 14 on tap and 15 more in cans. Pay attention to the starters, there are many good ones. The craft beer steamed mussels offer a ton of tender, grit-free shellfish with duck sausage in Red Gypsy Ale ($10) and the wedge salad is alive with a generous sprinkling of smoked bacon and an avocado ranch dressing ($10).
Also unsurprising is the entrée course mainstay: burgers. There are nine possibilities, which includes two vegan concoctions: chickpea edamame ($14) and black bean sweet potato ($14). All burgers come with french fries, barbequed spiced potato chips or a small salad.
The burgers are made with half pound, custom blended beef from Main Street Meats in Farmingdale. With names like Evil Sal, Blue Velvet and Wild Life they represent one of the more imaginative burger arrays on the Island. Most offer truly bold flavors but don’t be surprised if the burger you ordered medium rare arrives closer to well done—this occurred with the Wild Life, a tasty, beautiful blend of caramelized onions, gruyere and roasted wild onions ($16). The Blue Velvet came medium rare as ordered and although it was light on the gorgonzola, nevertheless delivered admirable flavor from its tomato jam and pickled red onion ($15).
From the Not Burgers listing we selected the fish tacos, featuring good, fresh, local flounder enhanced by napa cabbage slaw, pico de gallo and lemon sriracha sauce ($12). The griddled cheese ($12) turned out to be a substantial, if unexciting, grilled cheese sandwich.