“The Mediterranean diet works well in the Hamptons,” Executive Chef Roy Wohlars says about the new menu concept at Harbor Raw Bar & Lounge, where diners are increasingly looking for “light, healthy, and fresh options.” Add a pinch of exotic spice and a convivial setting that favors barefoot bocce over stilettos, and you have a recipe for the quintessential summer evening.
Wohlars is also obsessed with supporting local food systems, and for years he has scoured the East End for seasonal and artisanal ingredients. The seared yellowfin tuna with za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend of wild thyme, oregano, and sesame seeds), wheat berry, and cucumber is the convergence of place and palate.
Near and Far
Wohlars’ creation forgoes fish from afar and instead opts for Atlantic-caught yellowfin tuna. Marinated in olive oil and za’atar, the grilled loin is then nestled on a wheat berry and cucumber salad.
One of the chef’s strongest local partnerships is with Amanda Merrow and Katie Baldwin of Amber Waves Farms in Amagansett. The pair launched the Amagansett Wheat Project in 2009, and it’s the source of the whole-grain wheat berry that provides a toothsome, nutty bite. Wohlars also persuaded the duo to grow thin-skinned Persian cucumbers specifically for Harbor. The cukes are diced and combined with the wheat berry, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, tomato, and parsley for a creative take on tabbouleh.
Putting it together
Fear not: Wohlars won’t scorn you if you order your tuna well-done. “I’m not against it,” concedes the chef, noting that yellowfin has no fat content, so your options are rare or the other extreme, which might raise eyebrows among seafood purists. The wheat berry is more forgiving. It’s cooked in salted water over a low flame for up to three hours, then rinsed to remove extra starch and to keep the grains light and fluffy. Final touches include a Moroccan-inspired gremolata of preserved lemon, oil, and mint, and a sprinkling of locally harvested Amagansett sea salt for a briny, mineral crunch.
Raise a glass
Mixology fans may gravitate toward the fruit-heavy cocktail menu with offerings such as the Pink Flamingo martini, made with Absolut Elyx premium vodka, watermelon liqueur, fresh watermelon, and pineapple juice, but Wohlars recommends a classic rosé to withstand the meaty tuna. Domaines Ott Côtes de Provence (still the only rosé option on a deliberately curated wine list) delivers summer fruits on the nose with a refreshing peach finish, and it’s an exacting accompaniment to the pronounced Mediterranean flavors. 440 W. Lake Dr., Montauk, 668-8260