by Sue Giustino
After a brief hiatus from in-house dining, Shagwongs is open for business and prepped with a new Chef and menu for your dining delight! Chef Andy Dunleavy is shaking things up in the kitchen, and the result is nothing short of wonderful. Returning to his roots in the restaurant business Chef Andy is back at Shagwong after years of experience throughout Montauk and NYC. His Shagwong experience began in 1996 as a busboy and waiter, followed by four years in the Marines. Later, while studying at St. John’s Andy spent his summers in Montauk working at multiple restaurants eventually landing a job with Robby Devlin at the Clam and Chowder House at West Lake; even working with him to design and open Salivars when they moved. His experience is vast which has made him the great chef he is today. Learning on the job got a kick-start when Jimmy Hewett suddenly appointed him cook because his kitchen was down a cook. In the off-season, Chef Andy worked in NYC at multiple restaurants including BLT Prime. When Covid hit, like for many others the opportunities to work were minimal. He was bartending in the city when the call from Jason Behan came in to see if he wanted to come back to MTK. Andy returned last summer and helped them get through the busy MTK summer. Now as Head Chef, he’s made some great changes for Shagwong.
For our tasting, we were treated to many of the new menu items as well as some old favorites. With our cocktails- a Bees-Knees and Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita made with 21-seeds Tequila– perfectly crafted by the infamous bartender Ally- we nibbled on a basket of bread sticks and crispy flats with homemade hummus.
To start, we had the ever-popular Shagwong New England Clam Chowder which is creamy, smoky and full of tender clams. The Shag Shellfish Tower complete with lobster, clams, shrimp, and oysters is one of the items on the new raw bar menu, and it was fresh, cold, and delicious. Another new treat is Chef Alfredo’s specialty Chicken Pinchos- a Puerto Rican Street Food. This tasty dish is skewered seasoned chicken with chipotle BBQ sauce and served w/sweet plantains. One of the evening specials was Crab Cake Sliders– and they were quite special. Prepared with loads of fresh crab and gently pan seared, then perched atop a fried green tomato with a delicious roasted corn puree- all on a bun. The crab cake had such great flavor, combined with the blend of unique ingredients of the slider was an amazing dish.
The gently pan seared Scallop special was fork tender and flavorful, served with black rice and vegetable it was absolutely one of my favorites; the scallops caught locally by Mike Skarimbas- on the boat the New Species- couldn’t be any fresher.
Another new menu item is the 16 Oz NY Strip with pink peppercorn crust, grilled and served with seasonal vegetables, french fries or creamy mashed potatoes, and the new Shagwong steak sauce. The added tang of the sauce with the savory meat made this perfectly cooked steak fabulous.
One of the table favorites is the Seafood Paella with clams, mussels, shrimp, chorizo, and chicken over moist saffron rice. This dish has just enough added flavor to allow the natural flavors of the shellfish and meat to be enjoyed.
Desserts will be available nightly, although the menu is still under construction, look for its return courtesy of Marilyn Behan.
Shagwong Tavern, with the addition of Chef Andy has definitely stepped it up a notch. Everything we ate was perfectly prepared and had a beautiful presentation. Besides these new additions, there are many of the tried-and-true favorites still on the menu; the fabulous Shagwong Lobster Roll, the ever-popular loaded Shagwong Cheeseburger, and the irresistible Lobster Mac-n-Cheese, to name a few.
This season will also bring Tuesday Lobster Bake on the Patio with live music- held weekly from 6-9pm. Be sure to stop in and give it a try and check the website for the complete menu http://shagwongtavern.com/ .