BAYPORT

You'll eat well at JT's Farmhouse: our review

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“JT” is a household name in the Bayport-Blue Point community. And Justin Tempelman’s newest venture is a rustic, elegant restaurant in the heart of Bayport: JT’s Farmhouse.

The space took over the old Grey Horse Tavern, which closed its doors last year. The building is a landmark in the Town of Islip, and JT’s has largely kept the structure the same while adding some new elements to the inside. A new bar installed in the Prohibition room came from the Vanderbilt Mansion in Oakdale. There’s also a catering space available for rent.

Since opening the doors Thanksgiving Eve, Tempelman and his partners — Jesse Simon, Brenin Burgess, Cameron Mauro, co-founder of Blue Point Brewing Co, Peter Cotter and chef Shane LeBlanc — have been conjuring up elevated food with farm-to-table ingredients. LeBlanc has moved around all over the country and been honoring his southern Texas roots. But he promises he is here to stay, now anchored with a young family.

“I want to bring a little South to their mouth,” he said of his new Long Island customers.

We had the chance to try some food from the farmhouse. Here’s what we thought:

Starters

For the food lovers out there: when your eyes find “meat candy” on the menu, it’s probably hard to resist — so don’t. LeBlanc’s creation of roasted pork belly bites came somewhat as an accident, when his smoker didn’t work and he decided to pop them in the oven. Well, the result was a blessing: The meat is as tender as can be. The “candy” portion comes from the apple-apricot-barbecue glaze that covers the pork. The combination is a snack that you could eat all day long. And the side of (homemade) cornbread makes it a true Southern delight. 

Another creation that has made LeBlanc well known in food circles is his rustic meatballs. Covered in a red sauce cooked with tender pork, the meatballs use a combination of hanger steak, chuck and brisket (like a true Texan). The meatballs are earthy and rich and definitely worth fighting over as an appetizer. On the lighter but equally flavorful side is the fall harvest salad, dressed in a maple bourbon vinaigrette. It contains a balance of flavors among the vinaigrette, the blue cheese on top, the butternut squash and the unique homemade cinnamon granola.

MAIN DISHES

If you’re hungry for a steak, but you don’t want to eat meat, go for the cauliflower steak. A thick slab of cauliflower with a slightly spicy seasoning, topped with chimichurri and pickled mustard seed, will fill you, especially when it’s placed atop a bed of mushroom risotto. The risotto is the star of this dish, bringing a great savory and creamy balance when combined with the cauliflower. (This item is 100 percent vegetarian but can be made vegan upon request.)

LeBlanc calls his a “picture-worthy” burger, and we agree. It uses the same meat blend of hanger steak, chuck and brisket, but is then topped with umami onions, pickles and a secret sauce. LeBlanc calls it the umami burger, likely due to all the onions brought to the table. And the burger is a microcosm of how JT’s treats the meals it prepares. LeBlanc said he spent a lot of time scouting several different vendors just to find the perfect bun — work that paid off, in our opinion. 

For a more traditional dish, try the organic chicken, marinated for 48 hours in lemon and spices, then covered in a chardonnay beurre blanc with roasted peppers and artichokes. Underneath? A silky puree of buttermilk mashed potatoes that brings a creamy balance to the tangy lemon in the chicken. 

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