The Backyard: Market Driven Cuisine with Finesse
by Christina Canale
A fabulous restaurant has been added to the stable of quality Montauk eateries. The Backyard at Sole East Resort, under the direction of their new resident Executive Chef, Larry Kolar, is creating cuisine that is all about local, market fresh ingredients. The food is elegantly simple, to highlight the flavors of the fine ingredients and incorporates influences from around the globe.
I was told that the menu is continually changing to reflect the availability of local produce, fish and other ingredients. Larry, who has been at the helm of the kitchens of some of the finest NYC restaurants (Quilted Giraffe, Bolivar, Sign of the Dove, etc.), is focused on sourcing locally and preparing fresh ingredients. Fish comes from the docks and produce from the North and South Fork each morning. Meats are smoked on-site. Pasta is homemade, as are most of the breads and muffins.
Sole East has gone through an amazing transformation in the three years since the property has been under new ownership. It was converted from the old stalwart, Shepherd’s Neck to a “hip” resort. The Backyard is located in the center of the property, surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds and adjacent to the pool area. The property has a relaxed beach club feel, complete with mellow tunes spun by a DJ on weekends. At lunch, I had several choices of dining venues—around the pool on Saint Tropez style beds (I was surprised to learn that restaurant customers not staying at the hotel were welcome to enjoy the pool.), in big, comfortable chairs at the poolside lounge, on their back patio or inside the restaurant/bar. The restaurant was attractive, modern and minimalistic: slate floors, white walls, black and white photos and tables cloaked with brown paper.
I was introduced to Larry’s cooking at lunch. I highly recommend the Montauk monkfish sliders—each, 3 or 4 delicious bites of fresh, sliced grilled monkfish on a bun, topped with tarragon remoulade and served with freshly made, long island potato fries. Other favorites were the chicken sandwich on homemade focaccia and topped with pesto, arugula and roasted red peppers and the Ropa vieja, a Cuban-inspired shredded beef sandwich.
When my dinner party returned that evening, we began with appetizers at the relaxed, outdoor lounge. Fluke cerviche—the highest quality local fluke, prepared Peruvian style, and a house-smoked meat platter consisting of short ribs, brisket and pork were both amazing! We also tested the bartenders’ skill with some of the creative cocktails on their drink menu. Definitely try a Cloe, named for the owners’ young daughter.
For entrees, we enjoyed various fish, simply grilled to perfection, as well as the pastas and meats. Local black bass was a favorite served with a choice of sides: bok choy, grilled asparagus or roasted beets, that night. Scallops, oysters and clams were all from the area and in season. Fresh papparadelle with beef ragout was another stand-out. Also, be sure not to miss the desserts. Lavender crème brulee and fruit crumble—strawberry now, peach and raspberry later this summer, are two choices you’ll regret, if skipped.
In addition to lunch and dinner, The Backyard will be holding Sunday Jazz Brunches beginning July 5th, with bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys. Drop-and-Dine children’s service makes eating out easy for young couples.
Backyard Restaurant, Sole East Resort, 90 Second House Lane, Montauk, (631) 668-2105