323 New York Avenue
Huntington, NY 11743
(631) 421-6900

D moved to Long Island a short while back and seeing her means a half hour schlep on the Grand Central. Oh goodie. On the one hand, I wanted dinner at someplace cool. On the other hand, she wanted Italian. Conflict was bound, thusly, to ensue. I'd visited a couple of weeks back and we got cocktails, good ones, at this place in Huntington Village that I couldn't remember the name of. Honu, she said. Let's go there, I said. But I've been there before and the food's not great, she countered. C'mon. Fine. Haha! I won and we went.

I really thought I won.

Huntington Village is awash is restaurants, cafes, and shops. Sitting amongst them is Honu, a small plates restaurant and cocktail lounge. Small plates, huge space. Huge and loud and crowded. Crowded, but I felt young. This is definitely a primo spot for Nassau County's 35-50 crowd to go and get shitfaced. There were a few people around my and D's age, but not enough to really fit in.

Honu has four sections: the large bar area, the small lounge area, the downstairs dining room and the upstairs dining room. And they were full. Standing-room-only full. Not having a reservation meant waiting for a table at the lounge or getting a seat in the bar area. We wanted a table in the lounge so the hostess have us one of those blinking buzzer things and we headed to the bar for a solid half hour wait. But we sucked down drinks and eventually got a great table with cushy chairs by the window. The whole place is decorated in wrought iron with dimly lit by faux gaslamp-style lighting and candles. With the exposed brick walls, dark woods and leathers, Honu has a strange mix of old with cool, while hitting neither trendy nor retro.

Since this was a tapas style, small plates place, we ordered a range of dishes. I regret to say that , contrary to what some other publications may have experienced, most of what we ordered was not very good. Honu's website links to about a dozen articles from various media including the New York Times, Newsday, and National Culinary Review, all offering up praise. I have serious doubts that they'll link to me any time soon. And that's too bad. I could use the traffic.

We first ordered the Ribbon Fries with Sea Salt and Herbs side dish to munch on while drinking. They were over-fried to the point of being skinny potato chips. Maybe that was intentional, but part of me really doubts it. At least they weren't burned, but sign of a good fry is a crisp outside and a soft inside. These were so thin that they was no room for an inside.

D ordered the Crispy Shrimp & Chili Sauce, the best plate of the evening. The shrimp was tender and sweet, with just enough spice to give it some bite. Squeeze on the lime and you were golden. In my naturally contrarian way, I ordered the Duck, Scallion, Cucumber, the worst plate of the evening. The three items named were placed atop a small, soft tortilla shell to be eaten like a wrap. The dish was ruined by the duck, which was cold and fatty. This could have, should have been very good.

D then ordered the Chicken, Mozzarella, Tomatoes. Side note, Honu does not play games giving things fancy pants names. They're very straightforward. Anyway, this dish was exactly what it sounds like... bland. I mean, it's chicken and diced tomato with slabs of mozzarella. Given the amount of liquor most people here take down, I'm sure no one really notices. D also ordered a Fettuccine dish of some sort with shrimp and broccoli rabe (perhaps it was called Fettuccine, Shrimp, Broccoli Rabe?), but I forgot to write it down. Again, I recall that neither of us were really blown away by it. D liked the broccoli rabe, but didn't bother eating much else on that plate. Actually, her exact words were "don't eat this." She used the word "crap" in there somewhere, too.

Finally came the Scallops, Almonds, Honey. My guess is that this dish actually did taste good. Problem here, D and I both don't like scallops. Why order it then? No good reason. My only bad reason was that I hoped my taste changed and I'd find myself enjoying them. Taste aside, they were very tender, cooked medium-medium rare, seared on the top and bottom, and with the noticeably sweet honey glazing. Scallop lovers, this might be for you. As for the rest of us... "I warned you about the food", she said with an I-told-you-so tone.

Oh well. I regret the menu and the price attached to it, an average of $13 per small plate. But the drinks were great and given what I'm used to in the city, cheap. $9 per cocktail instead of $13. Plus, the service, from the bartenders to the wait staff, was great. Everyone there was helpful and nice and hey, we got a great table. Honu will remain my imbibery destination of choice when out this-a-way, but I'll eat somewhere else first.

One nice thing we got were two chocolate chip cookies with our bill. The cookies were very good.

Five small plates, one side dish, two cocktails, and four glasses of wine cost $141.

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