by Sue Giustino
Montauk-known for its beauty, history, fresh seafood, family fun, and diverse ways to enjoy life while creating lifelong memories. Before I lived here full time, one of my fondest memories of visiting Montauk was when my family and friends would end a day on the beach at Hither Hills, pack a cooler, and head to Duryea’s for lobster dinners. In those days, as many of you remember, it was BYOB, you would order your food at the window, then sit waiting for your name to be called. Eventually, someone from the group would go and bring the trays of food on paper plates with plastic utensils back to the table. A perfect view overlooking fort pond bay, cracking shells, great food, laughs… priceless memories.
Fast forward to 2014 and the Duryea family retires and sells the business. After a few years of maintaining the original restaurant, the new ownership renovated the space with many updates while also trying to maintain the authentic Montauk vibe of the historic fish market and lobster deck. The addition of comfy banquette seating, teak deck furniture and overhead sails along the length of the deck gives the space a breezy island feel. While still ordering at a window, now the waitstaff delivers your food and drinks, with real dinnerware- no more plastic.
The other constant, is the breathtaking view. From your table one see’s the Duryea dock extending into Fort Pond Bay where boats come and go, some even dropping anchor a few yards out. Adding to the picturesque scene is the deck with wood tables adorned with light airy décor, the sun shining its last rays as the sunset progresses, along with the warm breeze off the water- you just need to stop and take it all in for a moment, feeling grateful for the good fortune of the breathtaking experience.
On a Wednesday evening in late August, we arrived to a crowd of families, friends and couples filing the tables out on the deck, as well as occupying the inside bar stools and tables. This is often the scene at this casual dining/gathering location with one of Montauk’s finest views.
Enjoying a light, refreshing glass of the Duryea’s 2022 Cru Classe Rose, from Provance, France – one of the many fine selections on the extensive wine list – we waited to be seated while overlooking the water from the inside bar. We were greeted and seated by the friendly staff and began perusing the menu. Our delightful waitress Shea offered a few recommendations helping us make our final decisions.
To start, we picked on the generously portioned Crudites Platter arranged with a colorful crunchy array of farm fresh vegetables and sides of Dijonnaise and Tapenade dip. A beautiful and healthy way to start; white and green asparagus, red/yellow/and golden beets, radishes, cherry tomatoes, fennel, celery and carrot sticks, white/green/ and purple cauliflower- an eye-catching color palette of vegetables. Next was a longtime favorite, Duryea’s Lobster Cobb Salad. Arriving in a large wooden bowl filled with greens topped with eggs, tomatoes, avocado, bacon bits, sliced sharp cheddar cheese, and of course eight ounces of lobster meat all dressed with a light house made tarragon buttermilk ranch dressing. This ever-popular salad generously serves at least three people offering a wonderful blend of flavors and textures. Highly recommended by Shea, and a new item on the menu is Tuna Crudo with anchovy vinaigrette. Thin slices of fresh tuna sprinkled with basil, roasted capers, sliced cherry tomatoes and olives. The anchovy vinaigrette dressing makes this dish stand out with its rich, umami flavor adding a layer of complexity to this popular Crudo delicacy.
After much debate, we decided on the Clam Bake as opposed to the Bouillabaisse– both were also recommended as customer favorites. The Bouillabaisse consists of red snapper, codfish, monkfish, mussels, clams, shrimp, pee wee potato and a saffron aioli- sounds delightful. Our savory Clam Bake was piled high with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, red potatoes, corn on the cob, and topped with a split lobster all soaking in a light buttery broth. If shell fish is your thing, this dish is light and full of the natural shellfish flavors. An order of Fresh Baked Bread Basket is ideal for dipping in either one of these creations.
Aromatically pleasing, we could smell the three-pound Grilled Octopus arriving at our table. The combination of the gently grilled octopus, tomatoes, olives, lemons and the fresh slightly sweet, slightly savory, and subtly nutty romesco sauce creates a delightfully aromatic and tasty dish.
A tender and flavorful spice rubbed Branzino- the Market Fish of the day- rounded out our meal. Branzino, or European Bass, is traditionally served whole and often grilled. Chef Phillippe Corbett has perfected this fine fish with his unique choice of preparation and delicious pairing of fresh al dente vegetables.
In addition to our meals, they offer extensive Raw Bar and Seafood Platter options. Looking for a sandwich, maybe a Lobster Roll, Cheeseburger, Tuna Sandwich, or Grilled Cheese, even Chicken Fingers are available; all are also perfect choices for young diners.
For more information: https://duryeas.com/