Southfork Kitchen Keeps It Local and Green
BY DEBRA SCOTT
Block Island squid “a la plancha” with smoky romesco
Stunned at the lack of seafood restaurants in the Hamptons, playwright and journalist Bruce Buschel decided to open his own. Years and dozens of weekly New York Times blog posts about his progress later, he opened Southfork Kitchen last fall. The space on Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike is far removed from the rocking days when it housed the Wild Rose Café; this new incarnation is a temple to local produce and sustainable seafood. “You can eat the Hamptons here,” says Buschel, a board member of East End Community Organic Farm.
What you cannot eat are the popular fish found in other restaurants, from salmon (farmed) to tuna (endangered); nor will you find beef or veal. Long Island duck, however, is here. Even the bar adheres to Buschel’s ethos: All the wines hail from the East End, the mixes and garnishes—from the Water Mill maraschino cherries to the ewe’s milk blue cheese stuffed into olives—are handcrafted, and martinis are made with Long Island’s Liv vodka.
Through chef and sustainable seafood advocate Rick Moonen, Buschel found Joe Isidori, a thirdgeneration New York City chef and former executive chef for many of Donald Trump’s properties. Like Buschel, Isidori is out to save the oceans: He purchases fish according to the Blue Ocean Institute’s guidelines and educates his patrons, including restaurateur Bobby Flay and actress Lucy Liu, through the resulting sumptuous fare.
We start with Peconic Bay fluke for a memorable tartar, Napeague Harbor oysters spiked with lightly acidic Wölffer Estate verjus, “melt in your mouth” scallops sashimi, crudités pulled from the kitchen garden in the front yard and served with a lush Meyer lemon preserve purée, and tender Shinnecock Inlet squid “a la plancha,” which incorporates a delightfully smoky romesco and artisan organic salumi.
The sous vide organic egg may sound humble, but it is one of the best dishes this reviewer has ever tasted—the closest an entrée can come to a dessert. (In fact, just about everything on this menu is a triumph.) It is a symphony of North Fork sweet corn, buttery fava beans from Satur Farms in Cutchogue, pungent smoked oysters and heavenly morsels of briny sea urchin, all immersed in a deeply satisfying dashi broth infused with bonito flakes and kombu.
For our entrée, the arctic char with organic miso is deemed perfect, with the subtle sweetness from the yuzu’s citrus notes playing well off the mild flavors of the char. The panna cotta with Halsey Farm peaches, North Fork cherries and basil for dessert was positively ambrosial. Although cacao is not locally grown, the warm Valrhona chocolate cake was a welcome closer. And we are still dreaming about the butterscotch pudding, with its crown of duck-fat popcorn. 203 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Tpk., Bridgehampton, 537-4700
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC STRIFFLER