The Hamptons are now officially in full swing. This week, Arts & Living profiles five restaurants in Hampton Bays to hear from the chefs about what dishes are satisfying the masses, their own personal taste buds and are strong contenders out of the gate as summer’s best bets.
Asparagus Soup; appetizer; $10.
Scallop Crudo; appetizer; $10.
Elvis Woulda; dessert; $8.
Owner/Chef Charles Bishop always looks forward to May, and asparagus season, he said.
“Me growing up here, my father had a patch in the garden, so as soon as it starts warming up and those buds kick out, it’s really a treat,” he said. “I’m sure a lot of people are like me and can’t wait to get what’s coming from our ground.”
Right now, the restaurant’s most popular dish is a simple asparagus soup—a purée of fresh local asparagus with a little crabmeat, Mr. Bishop said.
“It’s a hot soup and a beautiful, bright green color, too,” he said.
Mr. Bishop said that he thinks of his original dishes as his children. Another one of his creations is Scallop Crudo, and when it comes to purchasing seafood, he said he gets as close to the source as possible.
“It’s a fresh local sea scallop,” he reported. “I get those as soon as the boats come in. We serve it in one of its own scallop shells, so it’s really a pretty presentation.”
The raw scallop is sliced thin and layered with a pomegranate cream, which is pomegranate juice reduced down to a syrup that is folded into fresh whipped cream. The scallops are seasoned with sea salt and drizzled with syrup, fresh lemon, and extra virgin olive oil.
“A lot of my food is either presented with a variety of textures or flavor profiles, when it’s appropriate,” he said. “The Scallop Crudo entertains your tongue. The textures of the fresh, raw scallop and the cream, but you also have the acid of the lemon and the tangy sweetness of the pomegranate, and all of that comes together with the sea salt floating around in there.”
The signature dessert dish is also one of Mr. Bishop’s concoctions. The ingredients: a square piece of chocolate cake with peanut butter cream, banana caramel sauce and a scoop of marshmallow.
“The fluff is blowtorch toasted to dark, crispy goodness,” he said. “We call it the ‘Elvis Woulda’ because if he were alive, he woulda loved it.”
Buffalo Chicken Wings; appetizer; starts at $8.50 for 10 wings.
Marinated Steak; entrée; starts at $17.99 for a 10-ounce steak.
Seared Sesame-Crusted Ahi Tuna and Seaweed Salad; appetizer/entrée; $11.50.
Over the last 25 years, Gators has sold more than 1 million buffalo chicken wings, according to executive chef and owner Richard Gise.
“For Super Bowl, we’ve done almost 10,000 in one day. It’s insane,” he said. “We have people come from as far as Montauk and Stony Brook, all over Long Island. We put a little secret ingredient in there that no one ever uses.”
The wings are fried in clean oil until extra crispy, Mr. Gise reported. They’re dunked in the restaurant’s special hot sauce, several spices and served with celery and blue cheese.
Mr. Gise’s favorite dish is made with top quality, black Angus beef that is wet-aged and coated in herbs, spices and a special marinade, he said.
“It’s a steak that people say, ‘Wow, that was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had,’ so that’s why I like preparing it,” he said. “Everybody’s happy, and I like eating it, too.”
In an effort to bring healthier alternatives to the menu, Mr. Gise said he hopes the new tuna and seaweed salad dish will soon become the restaurant’s signature. The sushi-grade ahi tuna is hand-seared, coated in sesame seeds, chilled and served over wakame, or seaweed salad, with wasabi cream, pickled ginger and teriyaki sauce.
“It’s fresh tuna, it’s light and it’s good for you,” he said.
Pan-Seared Sea Scallops; entrée; $27.
Yellowfin Tuna Steak; entrée; $28.
Oakland’s Seafood Pasta; lunch/dinner entrée; $20/$29.
Executive chef John Hill’s scallops are far from run-of-the-mill. They’re served over a crispy three-cheese risotto cake and finished with a light balsamic, crushed red pepper vinaigrette with asparagus on the side.
“Scallops always seem lost on a plate for me, unless you have a ton and it’s not really practical,” Mr. Hill said. “So I think to put it on top of something like the risotto cake is much better.”
Keeping with the seafood theme, Mr. Hill’s personal favorite is the Yellowfin Tuna Steak, which is pan-seared and served over a southwestern slaw finished with a very light cilantro Cuban sauce, he said.
“It’s new on the menu this year,” he said. “I like it so much and it has that Mexican, Latino cuisine element. I find it intriguing.”
A menu classic—the seafood pasta—is the clear choice for the restaurant’s signature dish, Mr. Hill pointed out. Pan-sauteed jumbo shrimp, scallops and calamari are tossed with fettucini, basil, tomatoes and a white wine sauce.
“We’ve been selling the seafood pasta since I started 20 years ago,” he said. “It’s a basic, very light, simple seafood pasta.”
Steak Tidbits; appetizer; $10.95.
Pan-Seared Salmon; entrée; $18.95.
Homemade Chicken Pot Pie; entrée; $15.95.
Owner/Chef Paul Fitzpatrick’s most popular dish began as something of a fluke.
“I started doing the tidbits because I had pieces of steak I needed to use up,” he said. “And now, I need to make sure I buy enough flank steaks.”
The steak is served with garlic toast points and horseradish sauce, he said.
“People love the marinade, too,” he said. “They’re always asking for the marinade recipe.”
A self-proclaimed fan of seafood, Mr. Fitzpatrick naturally favors the pan-seared salmon, which is served with grilled asparagus and a balsamic reduction.
“I just started doing it and it started selling,” he said. “I’m a salmon fan and I love local fresh fish. I would like to do more fish dishes. They’re heart-healthy.”
The potpie, made with chicken stew and vegetables topped with a puff pastry, has been on the menu for 20 years, he said.
“Being an Irish pub, it’s our main Irish dish,” he said. “That’s the signature dish of the restaurant. It’s an Irish thing.”
Local Flounder Stuffed with Blue Claw Crab; prix fixe entrée; $22.75.
Indian Cove Seafood Risotto; entrée; $32.
Tuna Tartare; appetizer; $9.
If Indian Cove serves 100 diners in one night, about half of them will order the restaurant’s stuffed flounder, said co-owner and chef Bernard Miny.
“The fish has typical, local crabmeat stuffing that we make in-house and serve over vegetable risotto,” he said. “The sauce has a hint of lobster bisque in it.”
Mr. Miny’s favorite dish also comes straight from the sea and features a 1¼-pound lobster, scallops and jumbo shrimp served with a creamy lobster sauce.
“We’ve been making it since we opened,” he said. “We have people who come in just for that. It’s really, really good.”
During the summer especially, the tuna tartare is easily the restaurant’s signature, Mr. Miny added.
The raw yellowfin tuna for the tartare is prepared with sesame oil, very finely diced cucumber, wasabi mayonnaise and crunchy fried wontons, he said.
“There’s a house seasoning that we don’t want to talk about,” he said with a laugh, of his secret ingredient for tuna tartare. “This dish is something we like to do. It just feels right with the place, with the outdoors here on the water. It just blends itself very well to that.”
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