“Truly the last restaurant on Long Island” since it’s about as far out as you can get, this “lively”, two-floor Montauker is “owned by a cooperative of fishermen” and serves “terrific” cooked seafood as well as “great sushi” in light of the “salt-air” setting and “breathtaking” sunsets (no reservations are taken); N.B. hours vary in the off-season.
Perhaps it is all of these things.
The menu is fascinating and the fresh fish there is all caught by the owners boats which ensures a fresh selection. When I had the opportunity to enjoy the Inlet Seafood Restaurant at the end of East Lake Drive in Montauk, I felt like I had entered into another dimension where fine food, incredible photographic art and smiling fishermen, surfers, locals and tourists all meet, greet and feel good.
The Inlet Seafood Restaurant has a wide variety of sushi, including a spicy porgy roll a la Montauk, along with sautéed calamari salad, tuna dynamite sticks, fresh mussels and fish cake. Every single item in the appetizer section of the menu is under $10.
Entrée’s include fish burritos or tacos, a perfect fisherman/surfer combination of food. The fish of the day states right on the menu that it is “always from one of our boats.” Herb crusted fluke, the staple fish of Montauk, as well as an 18 oz cowboy steak or lobster roll. There is a dish for every wallet, including the grilled Hamburger for $10 or the pan seared sea bass for $26.
My friend and I both enjoyed an unbelievable calamari salad, that comes out complete with tomatoes, scallions, kalamata olives and red peppers with mixed greens. A unique and delicious dish and a healthy alternative to fried calamari. I also enjoyed a local fish ceviche that comes out marinated in citrus and hot chiles on top of a crispy wonton. This is sensational and there is no place that serves this dish with such a generous portion. The same can be said for the Inlet’s fish cake that comes out with avocado salsa and red pepper chipotle sauce.
The people that run this restaurant don’t give you any question about who they are and what they have done with this place. It’s just awesome. If you go to this restaurant, be sure that somebody orders the herb crusted fluke served with oven roasted vegetables, rice pilaf and a creamy leak sauce. It is a remarkable dish that comes out on a large plate served with an extremely generous portion of fish, all for $23. Not enough can be said about this dish and I can say with confidence that I have had nothing like it at any other restaurant since I started doing reviews five years ago.
Of course, you have to save room for dessert at this restaurant. I opted to share the chocolate lava brownie, a piping hot brownie served with fresh vanilla ice cream that pours out “chocolate lava” when you break the brownie. Don’t forget to order this. What else is there to say? Perhaps a congratulations to the fishing families that created this restaurant and made sure to do it right. Other then that, all I can say is get down to the Inlet and try this restaurant. You’ll be happy that you did.
Give them a call at 631-668-4272.
By David Lion Rattiner
Here, ‘Fresh’ Means Right Off the Boats
The terms “fresh” and “local” often evoke a vague relativism when it comes to seafood, even in a fishing mecca like Montauk.
East End restaurateurs may say their fish is fresh and local, but many of the dishes on their menus likely feature ingredients that have been purchased at market in New York City rather than off the decks of a boat at the local dock. And even if the fish comes right off the chipped ice at a local purveyor, there’s no guarantee that it wasn’t caught as much as a week or more earlier.
For years, the six commercial fishermen who own the Inlet Seafood cooperative fishing dock in Montauk thought little of this irony. They went about their business as operators of the largest packing house for commercially caught seafood in New York State, unloading the fish from their boats and onto trucks bound for Fulton Street Fish Market in Manhattan, where they would be sold to restaurants from Long Island to Chicago.
As they worked, the fishermen—Charles Weimer, Kevin McGuire, Stuart Foley, Richard Jones, David Aripotch and Bill Grimm—could gaze at the bustling Gosman’s Dock seafood restaurant complex directly across picturesque Montauk Harbor from their large waterfront property. Admittedly, it took a while before the lightbulb clicked on.
Today the new Inlet Seafood restaurant, on East Lake Drive, towers over the eastern side of the entrance to Montauk Harbor, allowing views of both blazing sunsets and ghostly moonrises, as well as the hulls of the vast commercial and recreational fishing fleets trading in and out of the busy harbor at its doorstep. And when the waiters say that the fish is “fresh” and “local,” they mean both in the most literal sense.
Because Inlet Seafood berths several “day boats,” some of the fish—porgy, fluke, striped bass and flounder in particular—on the dinner menu at sunset may well have been swimming within sight of the restaurant at sunrise that morning.
“More than 90 percent of the fish we serve comes off the boats right there,” said the chef, pointing over his shoulder at the commercial dock in the backyard of his new restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner. “Things like tuna and shellfish we get from purveyors because those aren’t what they fish for here, but everything else comes off our boats every day.”
Cartons of fluke, porgy, striped bass, lobsters, whiting, tilefish, sea scallops and squid are loaded onto trucks practically in the restaurant parking lot, and the distinct, salty aroma of the air outside Inlet Seafood sends the message about what to expect from the menu perhaps better than the name itself. The building itself seems as though it was simply parked like one of the refrigerated tractor trailers waiting to haul fish to Manhattan—surrounded by dunes on one side and the harbor on the other.
Inside the front door, the lobby—the dining room and sprawling outdoor patios are on the second floor of the building to take advantage of the views—is filled with large black and white photos of Montauk’s fleet and its crews.
In the dining room, the atmosphere of Inlet Seafood is typical of Montauk’s hyper-casual atmosphere and moderate menu prices. Tables and chairs are widely scattered, and sparsely set with simple stainless flatware. Entrées are all less than $25. The waitstaff don the same navy blue t-shirts you might spy on Inlet Seafood’s dock workers—with the motto “Respect the ocean, harvest the bounty, feed the people” emblazoned on the back.
There are, as should be expected, some seafood dishes that just can’t be found anywhere else, based on the daily pickings off the Inlet Seafood boats and the changes in seasonal migrations. A whole porgy—the perch-like local fish that vaguely resembles a piranha and is rarely found in restaurants—comes with its jagged little teeth exposed, as if to scare diners away from its sweet, flaky, white meat, for $21.
“But you can’t get fish fresher unless you catch it yourself,” he said, reflecting with pride on the efforts of his staff. “When the big boats are coming in from offshore they call and ask what I want and stick it on a fork lift.”
Appetizers at Inlet Seafood include: crisp fried fresh calamari, creamy corn and seafood chowder, mussels fra diavolo, lobster and shrimp ceviche, tuna poke salad, and jumbo lump crab cake; all between $7 and $12. There are some classics for finicky land lubbers too: caesar salad, organic mixed greens and arugula with grilled portobello and parmesan, for $7.
Entrées at lunch include the fish of day, chosen from the previous evening’s “day boat” landings, striped bass burrito, lobster roll, fried fluke sandwich, steamed lobster, spaghetti with local littleneck clams, hamburgers, and a flatiron steak with horseradish cream. Most entrées are priced from $12 to $17.
At dinner fettucini with fresh sea scallops in spicy red pepper cream, herb crusted fluke with string beans and creamy leek sauce, cajun fried fluke, grilled center cut pork chop with garlic mashed potatoes and applewood smoked bacon and broccoli, and crisp pan roasted chicken with dijon chardonnay sauce.
Inlet Seafood will be open for lunch and dinner six days (closed Wednesday) and for Sunday brunch through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
By Michael Wright
Published in Southampton Press on Nov 30, 2006
A Very Slow Meal In Montauk
Feasting, convivially, at the pace of a snail
In 1986, when McDonald’s determined that the world was turning fast enough for Ronald to begin flipping burgers on Rome’s historic Piazza di Spagna, a counterrevolution was spawned to defend Italy’s traditional cuisine and sense of “convivium” against the fast-food assault.
Slow Food is now an international movement with more than 80,000 members worldwide, as well as, in this country, a magazine called Snail. On Sunday night, the Sag Harbor-based East End Convivium (meaning “feast,” from the same Latin root as convivial) held a very slow, five-course gastronomic tour at the Inlet Seafood restaurant in Montauk. The theme was Bonac fare.
“The spirit of slow food is traditional ingredients, regional types of food, and food ways. It’s countering the values of eating homogeneous ingredients quickly, alone, instead of a social activity where food is considered as something more than an anonymous fuel source,” said Brian Halweil, the editor of Edible East End magazine, who helped organize the event.
The evening began slowly, of course, with a crisp riesling from Paumanok Vineyards served at the bar with tuna and porgy sushi rolls and spirited conversation. Locally harvested porgies would return later in the evening. A small square of honeycomb would also provide sweet punctuation to the evening, but we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. Best to slow down.
At the bar, Frederic Rambaud was washing down a bite of sushi with the riesling and talking up his Hamptons Honey, which is based in Water Mill. “A complete fluke out of a midlife crisis,” was how he got into the bee business.
His master, “or is it mistress,” beekeeper was there too, Mary Woltz from Sag Harbor, who watches over 100 hives. She talked of a worldwide bee crisis brought on by pesticides, mites, and lost pollen sources, which locally included goldenrod and farm fields.
“We’ve lost over half the honeybees in the last 20 years or so. Albert Einstein said, ‘If the bee disappeared off the face of the globe, then man would only have four years left to live,’ ” Ms. Woltz said, adding new meaning and an extra “e” to Hamlet’s to-be-or-not soliloquy.
Hamptons Honey supplies the sweet stuff, but also encourages the improvement of general habitats, preservation of agricultural land, and the integration of hives into private gardens. “There are six hives at the EECO Farm,” Ms. Woltz said, referring to the East End Community Organic Farm in East Hampton. “We need farmland and conscientious gardeners.”
The slow gourmands moved slowly into the dining room and took their seats. The first course appeared: medallion of lobster tail, herb potato salad, black trumpet mushrooms, and yuzu yellow beet emulsion served with a bubbly 2000 cuvée from the Lenz Winery. In keeping with the group’s philosophy, the lobsters were caught in local waters by the fishing vessel Perception, one of Inlet Seafood’s own.
“For the past two weeks, I’ve met the local farming neighbors who will supply produce for the summer,” said Jennifer Meadows, Inlet’s chef and the designer of the evening’s offerings. Before coming to Montauk she was the executive chef at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C. Chef Meadows found produce at Fairview Farms and Sang Lee Farms on the North Fork, and at Open Minded Organics in Bridgehampton.
As 50 lobster tails were waltzed through yellow beet emulsion and the savoring commenced, Mr. Halweil stood, clinked his glass for quiet, and informed his guests that Inlet Seafood was the largest shipper of fish in the state, as well as a major supplier of squid — “as many as eight tractor trailers per week. So when you are eating calamari, this is probably where it comes from,” he said.
“This restaurant is owned by eight fishermen. A few years ago they got together and decided to open a restaurant and supply it with their own fish. This sums up the philosophy of slow food: getting eaters closer to the source of food.”
Waiters whisked away the lobster plates, put out fresh wine glasses, and filled them with a Jamesport 2005 East End series chardonnay to go with the next course, flounder caught by the Inlet-based boat Highlander, Korean radishes, red scallions, baby bok choy, and dashi broth with morel mushrooms.
Peter Garnham, the chairman of EECO Farm, and Lauren Jarrett, the cooperative’s executive director, sipped chardonnay and talked about the 2006 gleaning, over 2,000 pounds of vegetables left over from the regular harvest and dispensed to the needy by St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, the East Hampton Presbyterian Church, and the East Hampton Methodist Church.
Ron Goerler of Jamesport Vineyards rose to tell the group how his chardonnay came to have its “hint of oak,” and to say that 10 percent of the proceeds from the bottling was going to support aquaculture projects on the North and South Forks. “That’s what wine does,” he said. “It brings people together.”
For the third remove, a 2003 merlot from the Lenz Winery was united with porgies (skin on) from Montauk’s Cory and Leah, braised turnip, yellow carrots, acorn squash purée, pearl onions, and herb pistou. Mr. Garnham, an Amagansett realtor, grew up in England and moved here in the late 1960s.
He said he found the language, manners, and humor of the Posey community of Amagansett’s inshore fishermen — descendants of the area’s English colonists — very familiar. Sniffing the merlot, he suggested that it might be prudent in future to hire a bus or buses to transport sated members home, or to within crawling distance.
Many of the diners traveled from the North Fork, and would have to return the slow way (perhaps they wouldn’t mind) though Riverhead should the Shelter Island ferries be finished for the day. Traveling to taste local fare is why people join the convivium.
Kate Plumb, another organizer, clinked her crystal to announce two upcoming slow food events in Italy. The first, from March 28 to April 4, will start in Venice, then move on to Lake Garda, Trieste, and Verona. From May 1 to May 7, slow wine drinkers can travel to the Vin Italy Festival in Genoa via Rome and Elba. A slow fish conference will also be taking place in Genoa. Those interested were urged to contact Ted Conklin, the owner of the American Hotel, who will lead both tours.
Next came sliced duck breast from Crescent Farms with braised salsify (a root vegetable) and caramelized figs buttressed by a Jamesport 2004 cabernet franc. The wine was named best red in New York State last year. By this time, the eaters’ slow pace had downshifted to a snail’s with the coup de grace, a cheese plate with honeycomb, apricot marmalade, and Osprey’s Dominion port still on the horizon. Conversation bubbled on, however.
The Mecox Bay Dairy, supplier of the cheeses, is at the northeast border of Mecox Bay and the northern end of Swan Creek. Switching from potatoes to cows in 2001, Stacy and Art Ludlow and their sons Peter and John have been producing “artisanal” cheeses from their small herd of Jersey cows. They say their aged cheeses take their flavors from rich soil as well as sweet bay and ocean breezes.
The plate arrived with a moldripened, semi-hard Shawondasee (Indian for prevailing southwest wind), a Mecox Sunrise awarded second place in its category at the 2004 American Cheese Society’s annual competition in Milwaukee, the Atlantic Mist, a soft cheese with a white and gray rind, a Sigit, the oldest, a hard cheese in the Gruyere style, and a cheddar aged for seven months.
They all blossomed on the tongue by way of the apricot marmalade from Rima and Sons of Sag Harbor, and the Osprey’s Dominion port, with the Hamptons Honey comb providing the sunny finale.
What’s the Indian word for, “I can’t move”?
Published in the East Hampton Star January 18, 2007
Written by Russell Drumm
It is worth the drive to Inlet Seafood — and it is a very long drive as far as the South Fork goes — for the view, for the sunset, and for seafood that is as fresh as it could be.
Five commercial fishermen bought the marina that was formerly on the site to turn it into a fishing dock to ship to the Fulton Fish Market. On one vacant corner they decided to build a restaurant, supplying it with fish themselves. (You might think that fish you are eating at most East End restaurants comes straight from the boat, but it doesn’t. It has traveled in to the fish market and back out again. Go figure.)
Shortly before they opened, one of them asked The Star’s fishing correspondent, “Do you think anyone will come all that way?” To which the answer was, “You’d better hold onto your hats.” Which was exactly what happened. The restaurant opened in July and was immediately inundated with customers.
The dining room is simple, almost spartan, but it is all windows, so that not one bit of the view is lost. I hear it can be noisy when it is full.
The dinner menu offers appetizers such as corn and seafood chowder, fried calamari, tuna sushi, spicy mussels, crab cakes, tuna and seaweed salad, and ceviche from $10 to $12. Entrees, $12.95 to $22, include steak, chicken, pork chops, and hamburgers, but you want to go for the fish of the day or spaghetti with Little Necks, or a striped bass burrito, or Cajun fried fluke. I hear the whole grilled porgy is out of this world.
Not wanting to miss the view, we went for Sunday brunch. The brunch menu is similar, just a little smaller, with the addition of a few breakfast items.
We ordered two appetizers to share among the six of us — the crab cake and the ceviche of lobster and shrimp. The crab cake ($11) is as good as any I have had on the East End. It is served on top of a pile of lightly chopped avocado salsa with a few spoonsful of hot chipotle sauce. The crab cake is great but it is the combination of the tastes and textures of the three components that really makes the dish a winner.
The ceviche. . . . Now here I have to take someone to task, it is not a ceviche, which is raw fish cooked by the acid in lime juice, it is a salpicon de mariscos. Anyway, it is a sundae glass full of cooked shrimp and lobster in a light vinaigrette with hot chiles, avocado, and red onion, and very delicious it is too.
Two of our diners ordered eggs Benedict, one with bacon, one with smoked salmon. The eggs were perfectly cooked but the plates looked rather naked. A little salad would have been good, but our diners remedied the omission by heading for the breakfast bar and loading up with as many muffins, bowls of fruit salad, croissants, bagels, home fries, or mini pastries as they wanted.
At $16 the two dishes seemed too expensive, which reinforces the idea of staying with the fish, because the brunch special was a $12.95 swordfish sandwich — perfect swordfish with a gargantuan helping of the most fabulous fries, enough for the whole table and a great bargain. And the lobster roll, which was big chunks of lobster and little else, was also $16 and would have been my choice over two eggs on an English muffin with a bit of bacon and some sauce any day.
Of the terrestrial dishes, the huge breakfast burrito ($14) stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheese, chilies, chorizo, black beans, salsa, and sour cream was the best. The herb-crusted fluke ($21) was as good as one would expect though the promised mashed potatoes did not arrive, only some yucky rewarmed rice.
The many reports, invariably happy ones, I heard during the summer all agreed on one thing — the waitstaff was overwhelmed and could barely cope. But last Sunday at brunch there were not many people in the restaurant and the service was still slow and inefficient. Our waitress carefully avoided noticing waving arms trying to catch her attention throughout the meal and had to be tracked down in the kitchen so we could pay our bill. The decaf coffee was tepid and undrinkable.
So when Inlet Seafood moves into its second year, it needs to sort out the service and keep the good fresh fish coming as fast as it can be tossed out of the pan.
In Montauk, a Short Trip From Boat to Table
At the Inlet Seafood Restaurant in Montauk, N.Y., the phrase “fish of the day” has real meaning. The restaurant is owned by six local fishing boat captains — David Aripotch, Stuart Foley, Richard Jones, Kevin Maguire, Charles Weimar and William Grimm — who bring their catches to the kitchen door.
The fishermen and their families also own Inlet Seafood next door, which is the largest packing facility in the state. From there fish is sent to the Hunts Point market in the Bronx and other locations. John Rade, a fisherman, left, unloaded sea bass on the dock.
The new restaurant, with an A-frame dining room, has 150 seats, some on outdoor decks overlooking the water. One evening last week the chef was serving herb-dusted fluke, whole grilled porgy and seared striped bass fillets.
The Inlet Seafood Restaurant is at 541 East Lake Drive, Montauk, N.Y.; (631) 668-4272. Open every day for lunch and dinner, year-round.
Reviewed by Florence Fabricant
Lunch began with two exemplary rolls from the sushi bar — one, a light, creamy, chile-spiked spicy tuna roll, the other, a rainbow roll made with fresh tuna and fluke draped over blue claw crab and avocado. A ceviche of Montauk fluke marinated in hot chiles and lime was invigorating yet cooling. I liked the fact that the jumbo lump crab cake was all about crab, not bread crumbs, and was complemented rather than overwhelmed by a bright avocado salsa and sweet-hot red pepper chipotle sauce. But a pile of fried calamari came off rubbery and over-salted. And I wished that the lobster salad generously heaped onto an eggy hot-dog bun had been made with less mayonnaise and — purist that I am — no celery.All shortfalls were forgotten in light of a fluke special, the fish impeccable and lightly crusted with fresh herbs, well-paired with a creamy leek sauce. Even better was a whole grilled porgy, its skin crackling, its flesh sweet, almost flowery, accompanied by a ponzu dip. Here, I thought, was the essence of fish.A worthy follow-up was the “chef’s special” frozen Key lime pie drizzled with coconut caramel sauce. The first icy-cold, citrusy, bite nearly startled a friend off her chair. It’s a dessert worth driving to the ends of the earth — or at least the Island — for.
Reviewed by Joan Reminick, August 11, 2006
Photo by Ken Spencer of main dining room.