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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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January 01, 2015

Three Fine East End Eateries

by Bob Banfelder

Now that fishing has pretty much cooled down for the winter season, except for those die-hards who'll brave the elements whether aboard open boats heading out for cod and ling or ice fishing their local areas. The lucky few may grab a flight to the Florida Keys. So what are you and I left to do to other than count the days until springtime? Well, for openers, we can count on our favorite fresh fish meals being served at a handful of fine restaurants on the East End. Here are three that will not disappoint.


A Lure Chowderhouse & Oysteria
62300 Main Road
Route 25
Southold, New York 11971
(631) 876-5300



If it's a Tom Schaudel-owned and/or operated eatery, it's sure to be a winner. A Lure Chowderhouse & Oysteria in Southold is exactly that. Fantastic, in fact! As a bonus, the view is grandiose as the restaurant is located in the Port of Egypt Marina on Southold Bay. When Tom was chef de cuisine at Jedediah Hawkins in Jamesport, the restaurant became first rate. The emphasis on Alure Chowderhouse & Oysteria is alluring, for as the name denotes, the main focus is on seafood. There are, of course, steaks and ribs and burgers for landlubbers as well as at least three tempting and delectable salads from which to choose for the vegan.

Donna and I started off with beverages and shared two blow-away appetizers. We ordered and divvied up a bowl of Prince Edward Island mussels in a Thai red curry, coconut, and lime sauce. [$13] Superb. Too, their baked clams presentation (more or less along the lines of a clams casino offering rather than your customary presentment) are truly peerless: eight breadcrumb and herbed morsels splashed with white wine and lemon. [$11]

For Donna's entrée, she ordered Alure's macadamia-coconut crusted flounder dish that was lightly topped with a key lime beurre blanc. Few of us know the work that goes into preparing this sauce unless you are a foodie with a flair for French cuisine. This gourmet plate was portioned with properly seasoned fresh tiny French string beans and a creamy sweet potato puree. [$27]

I delighted in devouring a generous portion of excellently prepared (meaning marvelously moist and most flavorful) crusted and grilled Scottish salmon, ratatouille (a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish), with olive tapenade (puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil), and lemon oil. [$26] Wow!

We finished the meal with vanilla ice cream (three scoops) and flourless chocolate cake.

CowFish Restaurant
258 Montauk Highway
Hampton Bays
(631) 594-3868

Holy cow! Here is another fine restaurant in the Indian Cove Marina on Shinnecock Bay, just south of Montauk Highway. Dine and enjoy fantastic views of the canal, bay, with boats coming and going from Spellman's and Jackson's Marinas. Blue skies would be a bonus; sunsets will sooth your soul and frame a picture-perfect evening.

Donna and I started off with beverages and appetizers, sharing individual orders of Jumbo Buffalo Shrimp with Danish blue cheese and chives. As ‘jumbo shrimp' is often jokingly referred to as an oxymoron (two words put together that mean opposite things, no different than the classic example of ‘military intelligence'), it is no joke when an appetizer of CowFish's Jumbo Buffalo Shrimp arrives at your table. The shrimp are, indeed, jumbo! And that's no bull. These crustaceans were plump, succulent, and savory. [$12] Oysters Hamptons was the second appetizer we divided up and devoured, comprised of Parmigiano Reggiano, creamed spinach, garlic aïoli (lemony mayonnaise sauce), sriracha (a paste from chili peppers). Wonderful. [$12]

For our entrées, we both ordered NOLA shrimp; short for (New Orleans, LA) Louisana-style cuisine. I had heard earlier from friends and neighbors that this dish is positively a winner. The shrimps are reduced (no, not in size) in a Worcestershire sauce, jasmine rice (a rice with a nutty aroma and a subtle pandan-like sweet flavor), and served with a most tasty, toasted French bread. Friends and neighbors were quite right; this Cajun/Creole creation (if I may be so bold as to use the two cuisines interchangeably) is the best I've had. [$25]

For dessert, we somehow indulged our sweet tooth and managed to finish our Iron Skillet Cookies, served with whip cream and rum (yum) caramel. [$10]

CowFish is once again offering their seasonal five course winter wine-paring dinner extravaganza. If you haven't quite figured out the significance of the restaurant's name, meat and fish should surely give you a helpful hint; hence, an immediate clue as to what will be served during these three hour feasts. Another hint so as to narrow the field, poultry will not be presented, period.

First Course: Braised pork over corn cheddar pudding, apple demi glacé, pickled shallots.

Second Course: Pumpkin dumplings, brown sage butter, braised cabbage, sugared pecans.

Third Course: Pan-seared scallops, Andouille sausage and corn risotto, mushroom demi glacé.

Fourth Course: Grilled NY Strip, herbed potato Au gratin, fried leeks, beet reduction

Fifth Course: Bacon sugar cookie, rum caramel dipping sauce.


Palmer Vineyards will be pairing and explaining their wine selection accompanying each course. As you will be reading this review during the month of January, having missed the November 13th, 2014 wine-dinner event, call or e-mail the eatery at cowfishrestaurant.com for future dates and menu(s).

Touch of Venice Restaurant
28350 Main Road
Cutchogue, New York 11935
(631) 298-5851


Touch of Venice is an old favorite of ours, previously located at the Matt-A-Mar Marina in Southold. After relocating to Main Road in what was formally was the Fisherman's Rest Restaurant, business boomed for the family-owned and operated eatery. The setting is no longer on the water; however, chefs Ettore Pennacchia and his son, Brian, brought forth the flavors of a vintage European background via a marvelously major renovation project—both inside as well as outside the establishment. The new Touch of Venice is vicariously portrayed through tastefully appointed furnishings, photographs, posters, and other artwork. From floor to ceiling and wall-to-wall the theme is casual and comfortable. Not so much rustic as it is provincially relaxing.

Of course, the fare that followed from Southold to its relatively new location in Cutchogue is steeped in traditional recipes that the family has been preparing and perfecting for two decades. It is one of only a few establishments where you can order a seafood combination that is cooked to perfection. A medley such as clams, calamari, shrimp, and say a fish fillet require different cooking times and temperatures. Try ordering this dish in an eatery where they do not have their act together (most do not) and you'll be disappointed in discovering rubbery clams, overcooked shrimp, et cetera. Not so at Touch of Venice, for they've had over twenty years of culinary experience under their aprons. They do things right.

Dinner always begins with an unannounced treat brought to your table: slices of toasty-warm and crusty grilled Italian bread, a trinity of individual portions of pesto, roasted red pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese: symbolic colors (green ~ red ~ white). A bottle of inviting olive oil is already sitting on your table, waiting for you to spread the pesto and roasted red pepper then sprinkle cheese upon those fantastic bread slices . . . finally to dip that delight into a light bath of olive oil you'll carefully pour upon your plate. An introduction appetizer—gratis—to appetizers listed on the menu. Wow!

Donna and I then selected and shared two additional appetizers. One of the restaurant's specialties is their sizable stuffed artichoke offering—not to die for but rather to live for till the day we die! It is stupendous. The labor of love that goes into preparing this dish would simply be considered laborious for most of us. Picture a great open flower with a burst of prodigious buds. Breadcrumb, garlic, herbs, and melted Pecorino cheese adorn virtually each leaf, the cluster bathed in a light flavorsome broth. Savor each coated morsel, right down to the center of the globe's heart, and you'll think you died and went to heaven. [$13] Our second appetizer was big bowl of wild, plump Maine mussels prepared in olive oil, butter, white wine sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano, and lemon gremolata (lemon zest, garlic, and parsley). [$14]

Ordinarily, those three appetizers and a glass of wine (of course), would make an adequate meal for the two of us. However, we brought along our appetites, for we are reviewing this fabulous restaurant. For a main course, Donna ordered a pasta dish of Tagliatelle (traditional long, flat ribbons of pasta from Emilia Romagna and Marche regions of northern Italy) loaded with shrimp and scallops prepared in olive oil, preserved lemons, mixed olives, and capers. [$26]

For my main course, I decided on veal Sorrentino, a classic dish from Sorrento, basically comprised of sumptuous red sauce (gravy, if you will), thinly sliced and pounded veal, eggplant, prosciutto, wine, mozzarella cheese, et al. There are few things worse than ordering veal that arrives at the table tough and/or chewy. Good cuts of veal, such as scaloppini, are expensive. I never had a veal dish at Touch of Venice that disappointed. Another specialty dish that I often order is their signature veal rollatini, prepared with prosciutto de Parma, mozzarella and pecorino cheese, porcini mushrooms, Marsala wine sauce, and risotto. [$29]

For dessert we shared giolitti (Italian ice cream) and tiramisu (coffee-flavored Italian dessert). We asked to be wheeled out to our vehicle.?

*******

There are several fine restaurants on the East End of Long Island. Donna and I have seen many eateries come and go over the years. Here are a couple of tips to restaurant entrepreneurs who wish to remain in business rather than close their doors after a few years. Tip number one: Be consistent in your fare. Folks who shell out hard-earned dollars for a great dinner then return and are disappointed with a mediocre meal are not likely to return. Tip number two: Wine prices are out of sight today. Donna and I like to dine while enjoying a nice bottle of wine. Offer customers a bottle of decent wine for a moderate cost and watch your business grow, even if you make that offering only one day a week.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com



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