Three East End Eateries for Winter
by katie lee
photography by eric striffler
The warm mushroom and chickpea salad at Robert’s
|One way to stay warm in the winter|
|The classic mussels preparation at Fresno|
Few communities are as dedicated to the locavore movement as the Hamptons. The local farmers’ crops and the character of the area’s villages have created a culinary culture so rich that it lasts well beyond the summer season.
Fresno, Robert’s, and Red Bar Brasserie are among those that serve seasonal foods throughout the autumn and winter. Now is the best time to meet the restaurateurs and chefs who are creating the most scrumptious meals that subtly celebrate the rich local bounty.
As Fresno (8 Fresno Pl., East Hampton, 324-8700) is tucked away on a quiet side street (its namesake) in East Hampton, it is among the best-kept secrets on the South Fork. The restaurant is intimate and inviting, and the food is as comforting and warm as the greeting you’ll receive from brother and sister management team, Michael and Lara. The Cornell oysters with cucumber mint mignonette and crispy calamari salad burst with the flavors of locally caught fresh seafood. The mussels, prepared with a classic white wine, shallots, thyme, and garlic reduction; the seasoned chicken breast, seared with a crispy skin and served with horseradish mashed potatoes and haricot verts; and the local cod roasted in a cazuela (clay pot) with baby bok choy, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and coconut curry broth are absolutely perfect wintertime dishes to warm up those bone-chilling cold nights, particularly when served alongside a glass of Grapes of Roth Merlot from Fresno’s exceptional wine list.
Fresno also amends its menu with a few winter-specific selections: orrechiette with roast butternut squash, hot Italian sausage, and sage; sautéed local skate wing with Brussels sprouts, bacon, capers, and brown butter; Satur Farm mixed baby beet salad with upland cress, crumbled blue cheeses, and red wine vinaigrette; and several hearty soups—potato leek with goat cheese brioche, butternut squash soup with chestnut honey, and curried yellow lentil soup with peanuts and yogurt. “In the winter, we continue to shop locally for as long as we possibly can,” says executive chef Gretchen Menser. “At the moment, we are buying from Satur Farms on the North Fork. We buy their beautiful tricolor baby beets, butternut squash, micro arugula, frisée, fingerling potatoes, and anything else that is exciting for the weekly specials. We also try to use as much local seafood as possible, from Gosman’s in Montauk, such as striped bass and littleneck clams.”
photography by eric striffler (chicken); bob lorenz (mussels)