BELLPORT

Bellport graduates make a mark in the big city

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A haute cuisine hot spot of New York City with the welcoming home- town vibe of a Long Island shore town pub staple, The Cabin NYC is a must-visit place for a night out in the world’s metropolis.

Opened by Bellport High School alum, Joey Aponte, (class of 2000) who has over 22 years of experi- ence as a restaurateur, The Cabin is able to be both a beacon for city nightlife with all its trendy patrons, but still be a breath of cozy, relaxed fun for those look- ing to enjoy a warm moment with friends.

On a bustling Saturday night, we went out to The Cabin to sample some of their inventive, sophisticat- ed, but comfort-food-at-heart eats and “Mad Men”-worthy cocktails.

“I believe in doing your best pos- sible in everything you endeavor,” said Aponte, an exceedingly charm- ing and inspiring host. “I opened this restaurant and wanted it to be exactly my vision.”

Inspired from his home in the Poconos, the refined log cabin style of the restaurant features cus- tom-made wood tables milled from a single tree in Pennsylvania, each decorated with a woodland creature. The electric-blue banquets are a glamping touch of sophistication to

offset the wood details, and were also custom made for The Cabin.

As the start of fall came in recent- ly, The Cabin’s décor was swapped into autumnal bliss, with har- vest-colored leaves throughout and placed upon the three life-size tree trunks that grace the main space. “We change it every season, along with our menu,” said Aponte. “This gives our customers something to look forward to and to feel constant- ly inspired to try new things.”

Chef Dennis Aponte, also a Bell- port graduate (class of 2007) and one of the leading chefs in New York City, is a mastermind of culi- nary teasings of diverse flavors that culminate into wondrous, cohesive creations that pull the whole palate into overdrive.

Coining the term “shareable plates,” Dennis wanted to make foods meant to spark scintillating conversation as layered and in-depth as his conceptions. “The plates are meant to be enjoyed with other peo- ple, in every sense of the word,” said Dennis. “We want our customers to be curious about their meal.”

The first shareable plate served was date and goat cheese wrapped in bacon with a banana-ketchup aioli. Unlike most aiolis that tend to domi- nate, Dennis’s was a perfect comple- ment to the austere sweetness of the

date and the grounding tanginess of the goat cheese. With bacon crisped to perfection, the dish set a high bar for the rest of the evening (one that the Aponte brothers cleared like Olympians).

With an Old Fashioned that would’ve been right in place in a dinner party of the JFK-era, and my companion for the evening, inter- national, Brooklyn-based musician, Gustavo Lovato, having a delightful- ly spicy margarita, the drinks menu of The Cabin featured an equally fertile imagination for the senses.

The next dish, brussels sprouts infused with brown sugar and chili, was the surprise crowd-pleaser of the evening. Light and flavorful, the dish was strong enough to stand on its own as a main course, but diplomatic enough to accompany another.

The fried chicken, using only the best Amish chicken, with superb honey dipping sauce whose quality even the picky Ina Garten would have approved,

would have been the must-have of even the greatest of Southern barbecues.

But showing their Long Island roots and versatility with meats, the lobster roll, declared the “best” in the city, was seasoned and buttery accompanied with the most heavenly French bread.

To round out the evening, the deconstructed s’more was the last course and the chocolate ganache, homemade marsh- mallow crème and molasses crumble, was the perfect des- sert for a chilly, fall evening in the bustling Lower East Side.

With portraits of Big- gie and Tupac in anthro- pomorphic form decorat- ing The Cabin, the spirit is impeccably captured: a tour de force to take on Manhattan and bring in the crowds, with the sensibility of hometown warmth to keep them happy.

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