by Sue Giustino
Gurney’s Star Island Resort and Marina – formerly the Montauk Yacht Club – has not only updated the buildings and grounds upon which it sits, but they’ve taken a stance for clean cooking and eating in all of their restaurant venues on the property.
A Montauk Icon – the property is one of the original Carl Fischer Properties and it still stands regal and proud welcoming boaters, hotel guests, and diners from its docks as well as through its front doors. Built in 1928 by Carl Fisher when he dreamed his dream of Montauk becoming a seaside resort for the rich and famous, it’s been a part of the Montauk community for 90 years.
Now George Filopoulos and his staff have created an up-to-date premier hotel destination offering 107 luxury waterfront hotel rooms, suites, or villas; 15 acres of grounds with endless outdoor amenities, and an array of restaurants, bars and meeting rooms for personalized and intimate events centered around the water.
After a stroll along the path near the pool and outdoor seating area, diners are invited in through the welcoming lighthouse entrance. As you proceed, you may choose a spot at the lively bar for a cocktail, or take a moment to view the fish display and giant lobsters in the lobster tank. In addition, there’s a cozy fireplace section with comfortable chairs/couches to sit for a quiet moment.
As we sat at the Showfish Bar enjoying a Hibiscus Cosmo and a Tequila 2 Tequila expertly prepared by Robert, we had a chance to chat with Head Chef Jeremy Bludtstein and Kevin Lind, the Bar Manager. Their enthusiasm for what they have helped create at the property can’t be contained. It’s obvious they believe in and enjoy being completely locally sourced within about 40miles, and with zero waste. Jeremy is taking the the farm / dock to table concept to a new level al while preparing high level quality fresh foods.
According to Kevin, the plan is to maintain the bar as a beautifully comfortable place to enjoy delicious cocktails; offering an elevated experience for visitors, boaters and hotel guest. Our cocktails were excellent and of course the view is classically Montauk.
Jeremy explained how the products are used in multiple capacities throughout the various food settings, as well as at the bar. They cure their meat, infuse oils and vinegars, make pate, butter, breads, sauces, purees…pretty much anything he can create to utilize all of each product. The meats and produce are sourced through a variety of local farms- from LI to upstate NY, NJ and Pennsylvania. The fish and shellfish is dropped off by a number of local fishermen, most of whom Jeremy grew up with. It’s no wonder that Jeremy Blutstein has earned an impressive name for himself here on the east end, including a coveted James Beard Award nomination. His promotion of local vendors including Quail Hill Farm, Marilee Foster, Balsam Farms, as well as the numerous local fishing boats who provide him with daily catch is notable.
Showfish is the main dining room which has been renovated in such a way that completely brings the outdoors in. The view of the harbor from each table is as enchanting as the room itself. The property enjoys a spectacular morning sunrise, and although we didn’t get a complete sunset view, we were treated to the glow of colors illuminating the skyline during the post sunset. As we sat enjoying the view, our server Alex jubilantly greeted us offering a little background about the restaurant and food preparation. She was very knowledgeable and anything we asked that she wasn’t 100% sure of she made sure to find out. Deciding on a delicious California Cabernet and Zinfandel from the extensive wine list we began to peruse the menu.
We ordered a variety of dishes from the creatively unique menu, however, along the way additional choices were sent out. A gorgeous platter of raw clams and oyster, and cold crisp shrimp looked almost too good to eat. But I’m glad we did, you could taste the freshness. From the appetizers we chose The Spring “GREEK” which includes sugar snap peas, Persian cucumbers, taggiasca olives and mint atop Sardinian whipped feta. The gentle blend of flavors presented a perfect taste. We also enjoyed the “Anna Mary” Lobster Veloute which is a lovely light creamy pink soup, along with the fresh Tuna Crudo with preserved lemon, capers, with a pumpernickel crumble top. Another appetizer that was prepared perfectly was the Grilled Spanish Octopus with olive oil crushed potato, lamb bacon, salsa verde and espellette accompanying it. I think if we hadn’t been doing a tasting, I’d have a very difficult time choosing just one appetizer.
From the entrees we each chose a different type of food; the Maine Halibut, the 48 day Dry Aged NY Strip Loin, Lamb Saddle, and the Tagliatelle. Each dish was beautifully arranged and cooked to perfection. The Halibut was fork tender and the NY Strip melted in your mouth, while the Lamb Saddle is a combination of tenderloin and chop with a light outer char and tender medium rare inside- my favorite of the evening. Finally, the Tagliatelle with Jonah Crab has a balance of spice and cream accented perfectly with the crab.
All of the meals are prepared simply, yet the unique blend of fresh ingredients enhance the natural flavors of each dish. Even the sides were terrific, we enjoyed the roasted carrots and the Sautéed Amagansett Greens-a delicate blend of radish top, Swiss chard, and spinach. Something I really appreciated is the Farm Abbreviation Codes listed right on the menu allowing the diner to know exactly which farms the products for each dish comes from. The desserts sounded extravagant although we didn’t have much room, so they sent the Banana Short Bread to taste. Light with a subtle banana flavor- as with the rest of the meal, it was simply delicious.
Throughout the evening, every detail from the table settings to the presentation of the food was obviously well thought out. The cohesion among staff for a newly opened restaurant was impressive. Chef Jeremy’s skill and dedication shines through in the food preparation, presentation and flavor, as well as with his efficient staff. Gurney’s Star Island Showfish Restaurant is an exceptional fine dining experience in elegant comfort and extraordinary ambiance.