We arrived early on a rainy Friday night, and our well-dressed hostess showed us to a table in front of the fireplace. It’s normally my favorite restaurant seat, but at Georgica in Wainscott there are so many rooms and levels, so many comfortable spots for people watching, it’s difficult to make a choice. When you book your reservation (and that’s a must this time of year), you may request a view of Georgica Pond, or a table in one of the patio rooms…or a place near the bar where the action amps up after 11 p.m. You know something’s up when you pass a “step and repeat” backdrop for red-carpet photo ops as you enter the restaurant. Georgica is a celebrity hangout and private party venue of the first order, but the restaurant’s real success is due to its simply wonderful food.
Our delightful server Feather advised us that Chef Seth Levine had prepared a tasting menu “so we could sample more dishes.” We were happy to be in his hands! My dining partner started with a glass of the Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon and declared it delicious. Co-manager Yanni Emmanouilidis told us “the original wine list was commercial, year two it was all boutique and this year it’s a combination of both.” There are some local wines and a good selection of California, French and Italian.
The tasting menu began with a miniature summer salad of heirloom tomatoes and watermelon slices, stacked like silver dollars, in Athena dressing drizzled with balsamic vinegar. It was sweet and cool, crunchy yet moist…just luscious. Next we sampled a Salmon Tartar and Rock Shrimp Tempura with Sriracha Aioli (my favorite). The Lobster Bisque, served in a demitasse cup, was buttery and rich with a big chunk of lobster. It was just enough for the tasting menu, but next time I’ll order a bowl!
Between courses Chef Levine came out to greet us. His is a story that would make a terrific film! A native of Great Neck, he studied cooking in Florence, but then landed a job at Goldman Sachs. After seven years at Goldman he left to pursue his true calling, culinary arts. On the very day he left he saw a crowd gathering on the street and discovered it was an audition for “Hell’s Kitchen.” Not only did he appear on the television show, he met his partner Robert Hesse there, and together with two more partner/investors, they opened Georgica three years ago.
The personable stockbroker-turned-chef calls his cooking Modern American Cuisine, and he’s clearly proud of the team’s accomplishments. He asked us to try his signature appetizer: Seared Diver Scallop with Corn Pudding, Quail Egg, Maple Glazed Bacon and Apple Cider Reduction. The combination was silken, sweet and delicious.
For our main course we were presented with a perfectly Grilled Filet Mignon in a Red Wine Demi-Glace and a 1½ pound lobster removed from the shell and mixed with shrimp, scallops and crabmeat. Divine. Accompaniments included truffle-infused shoestring potatoes, a killer lobster macaroni and cheese with truffle oil, and a corn pudding with a crème brulée-like crunch on top. “I’m very involved with truffles right now,” joked Chef. “Who knows, next week it may be something else!”
Clearly we had no room for dessert, but we could not be impolite! Feather presented us with a trio of cupcakes and a perfect cloud of berries-in-cream. Another signature of the restaurant, red-velvet cake lollipops, stood like little soldiers saluting us as we left.
I snagged a couple “for the kids,” and vowed to return to Georgica soon.
Georgica, 108 Montauk Highway at Stone Road, Wainscott, 631-537-6255 www.georgicarestaurant.com.
Site of the official after-party following Dan’s Taste of Two Forks food and wine event, Saturday, July 16, in Bridgehampton. For tickets visit Danstasteoftwoforks.com. [/expand]