Friday, July 16, 2010

To The Ends Of The Islands

I spent two rainy days in Montauk, cursing the weather and eating my way through the Hamptons' haul. On Tuesday night, I stopped at Bostwick's, the East Hampton version of a New England chowder house. The prices were reasonable--for the Hamptons. My one-pound lobster, served cleaved in half (an insult, really), was a scant eighteen bucks. Still, the poor beast was sadly overcooked and a far less sweet version of the crustaceans I'm used to. A side of corn, gratis with the lobster, was mushy and tasteless and decidedly not from Long Island. The real winner of the evening was my appetizer of stuffed clams, which was full of texture and salt and crunch, like a clammy Thanksgiving stuffing.

I had a lobster roll the next afternoon at Gosman's, which was a fine specimen, even if the hot dog bun, grilled, lacked butter. The lobster mix itself was heavy with dill and chopped celery and decorated with only a touch of mayonnaise. The roll was approachably priced at fifteen dollars, though I will say that the true Maine version goes for loads less. In a time when lobster is overabundant (you can find them on the Maine and Massachusetts docks for $1.99 a pound), it is hard to justify paying such premium price for mediocre product.

The Hideaway, Montauk's ode to Mexican, is a far more successful establishment. I drank a Pacifico and ate grilled pork tacos and Mexican corn, my own homage to summer. Who wouldn't toss their calorie count aside for grilled corn with cayenne, mayonnaise, and cotija cheese? The Hideway's food is authentic and tasty and causes far less damage to the pocket than any of the seafood joints in town. It is a shame that the finest food in Montauk has nothing to do with ocean fare.

The stretches of Long Island led me to the stretches of ninth avenue this afternoon, where I lunched at Google for the second time in my life. The Google dining room is run by Restaurant Associates and features a grill station, a "special of the day" station, a salad bar, a raw food station, a dessert station, a soup station, a fish station, and other miscellaneous stands with other miscellaneous eats. A map on the wall near the desserts pinpoints all of the farms from which Google gets its produce. Index cards actually spell out what comes from where, right down to the melons in the chilled melon soup. It is a tirelessly modern ideal in a world where local and sustainable often comes up short against corporate interests.

We arrived at Google on the later side; the dining room closes at two every afternoon and the pickings are slim after one thirty. I had a hamburger with extra pickles, a personal favorite, as well as a fresh cucumber salad, roasted fingerling potatoes, and green beans tossed in sesame oil. B. ate swordfish with polenta and T. ate a raw butternut squash salad. Would that all workplace cafeterias offered so many options for so little dough (and by so little, I mean none).
By the time we were finished, the gelato cart had closed up shop, a near miss. We went to the snack room for fresh fig newtons and Red Jacket Orchards Fiji apple juice and plums. The snacks at Google are endless, which must be why so many young workers stay so long.

Bostwick's Chowder House
277 Pantigo Road
East Hampton, NY 11937

Gosman's Clam Bar
500 West Lake Drive
Montauk, NY 11954

The Hideaway
364 West Lake Drive
Montauk, NY 11954