by Sue Giustino
Each season Montauk experiences changes; venues change names, chefs, and menus. The Montauk Yacht Club has done all three.
Although the venue is back to the original name, the Montauk Yacht Club, the restaurant name, Showfish remains the same. However, what is being prepared in the kitchen and who is responsible for it, has most definitely changed. Executive Chef Matt Murphy has joined the staff at Showfish and he’s created a new menu with a fresh new Back-to-Basics concept. His food design is ingredient driven, focusing on the freshest locally-sourced, fish and farm-to-table, which together inspire unique culinary creations. Chef Murphy has built an impressive resume including numerous high-profile restaurants, which as we discovered on our visit, is also a testament to his culinary talents.
Tucked away in the harbor, going to the Montauk Yach Club is like arriving at an island beach resort. As we walked through the passageway from the parking area, the view of the marina is breathtaking. After a short walk on the docks, we headed to the outdoor pool bar for a cocktail. As we joined another group who were enjoying some late afternoon cocktails after a day in the sun, the bartender took our order, and our evening of quality service, tasty drinks and outstanding food had begun.
The skilled bartenders mixed a light and refreshing Sorrento Spritz, with prosecco, limoncello, fresh berries, and mint, as well as a few Mezcal Negroni’s, a blend of mezcal, carpano antica, and Campari: a unique take on a traditional Negroni. Throughout the evening, we also enjoyed a few of the wines by the glass; Punica Samas Vermentino- Sardinia, Italy, Minuty- Porvence, Franc, Villebois Sancerre- Loire Valley, France, and Daou Cabernet Sauvignon-Paso Robles, California. Each selection was quite pleasing and a paired well with our meals.
One of the first things we noticed upon entering the open, airy, dining area was that the Historical Pictures of Montauk are once again adorning the walls. Each one representing a remembrance of what Montauk used to be; providing character and historical significance to the nautically inspired décor of the room.
As we began our culinary journey, the sun was setting and our view of the marina beyond the open glass doors lining the dining room became even more beautiful. We watched in awe as the sky was painted with pale tints of orange and pink.
Speaking with the chef, and hearing about some of his previous restaurant experiences as well as the evolution of his cooking style, we became excited to tase the menu. Funny enough, as our friend Jack had wished for, Chef Murphy sent out almost the entire menu for the four of us to share. One by one our waiter Ovi and other staff presented our food. We experienced each dish from the presentation and aromatic essence, to the taste. I think he took mercy on us by leaving out just a few dishes, although, we did a fine job of sampling each one that was presented.
Replacing bread service, the MYC Cacio Pepe Pizza is a wonderful way to begin the meal. I would take this brick oven, thin crusted crisp pie with a blend of creamy garlic and pecorino cheese instead of bread at any meal. Paired with either his delicate, baby gem Caesar Salad with pickled red onion, topped with fresh parmesan and anchovy fillets, or the artisan greens House Salad with a light herb vinegarette and crispy pumpkin seeds, they would make a great, simple meal.
The small plates, as well as the entire menu, is designed to be shareable or to enjoy alone. As with all of their fish, the Tuna Tartar and Fluke Ceviche, are created with fresh fish purchased daily from local boats. Creamy avocado puree topped with delicately diced tuna, nak man cham, watermelon and nori, create the tender and flavorful Tuna Tartar. The addition of crispy wild rice sprinkled over the top adds an unexpected texture making it stand out from others. Bursting with fresh flavor, the thinly sliced fluke of the Fluke Ceviche is displayed upon a delightful horseradish cream, with yuzu gel and dill oil. The descriptions hardly do them justice, but each plate offers a perfect blend of texture and flavors.
If shellfish is what you enjoy, as I do, the order of Saffron Curry Mussels topped with grilled bread for dipping is one way to go. The sauce is gently balanced in a way that neither the curry, saffron, garlic, wine, or sriracha take over the flavor- they work together creating a lovely aromatic taste. Although I don’t personally enjoy oysters, the rest of our party certainly did, describing them as, “Creamy and plump Devil’s Island Oysters accented perfectly with the sweet/tart addition of the dill, lemon and granny smith apple.”
A few delectable vegetarian, non-fish alternatives are the Burratina and the Half-Roasted Cauliflower. Served with flatbread, the plate of babaganoush with its rich, smokey flavor, smoked yogurt, and olive oil, made for the ideal accompaniments to the gentle flavor and creaminess of the Burratina. Cooked to a tender al dente, the Half-Roasted Cauliflower was beautifully presented with creamy hummus, pickled florets, crunchy pumpkin seeds, and an amazing fresh herb dressing.
We moved on to a few main dishes, although as designed, everything we had so far was generously portioned and quite sharable. The Tomato & Clam Pasta consists of a nice bowl of fettuccine in a light creamy clam, tomato, lemon and basil sauce. A lovely summer pasta offering clean fresh flavors. Another wonderful choice is the Salmon with a succulent buttery glaze served atop wasabi puree, along with peas, shallots, and asparagus all dressed with gentle shaved almond slivers and pea tendrils. Personally, my first choice would be the Butter Poached Lobster. A sure palate pleaser with the herb infused buttery, tender lobster, accented by the the characteristically chewy texture of farro, and the added sweetness of the candied ginger, which was all enhanced with the mild anise essence of the fennel dressing- a uniquely outstanding dish. However, the number one table favorite was the perfectly seared Tuna Steak plated with a gentle carrot puree, ginger, and a very fluffy coconut rice. The range of flavors of the sides for this final meal were well balanced and perfectly designed to complement the freshness of the tuna.
Needing some well-deserved recognition, the pastry chef sent a few choice desserts. Creme Brulée Cheesecake; thick and creamy cheesecake complete with the glazed top of traditional Creme Brulée. Chocolate Cake and Peanut Butter Explosion– each offering rich, chocolatey goodness, and tart and creamy Key Lime Pie. Along with these treats, we sipped a lovely port. Be sure to save room for some sweet to end your night- it’s worth it.
Each meal, from start to finish, was expertly balanced for texture, flavor, and of course presentation! Chef Matt Murphy has it down to a science. With so many tasty dishes to choose from, and believe it or not there’s a few we haven’t experienced yet, I’m looking forward to returning to Showfish for another wonderful meal.
For hours and further information, go to https://montaukyachtclub.com/ .