1 Long Warf, Sag Harbor
LONG ISLAND’S EAST END continues to fascinate Manhattan’s restaurateurs. Harlow East, the new, sophisticated seafront spot in Sag Harbor, is the latest example of this trend. Richie Notar, the owner of Harlow in Midtown—and a former managing partner of Nobu—is the latest to venture east. His hip, dramatic seafood-slanted digs occupy the former B. Smith’s (ironically, another Manhattan transplant). They both followed the same path as Delmonico’s, Sant Ambroeus and Bobby Van’s, among others.
The 175-seat eatery is outfitted in a mostly white color scheme, with wraparound windows, well-spaced tables and mirrors adorned with fish etchings. There is also an expansive outdoor deck overlooking the Long Wharf Marina offering patrons a welcome break from the indoors.
Harlow East serves refined, quite expensive, non-fussy dishes often with local fish, farm-raised produce and always with cosmopolitan sensibility. These uniformly high quality ingredients feature orthodox renditions given creative tweaks and accompaniments. Best of the tapas starters by far were the three Montauk lobster sliders on warm, pan-seared mini buns discretely slathered with Kewpie, a Japanese mayonnaise ($26). Lamb meatballs made from Tullamore Farms ground lamb ($19) were full of marinara and mint flavor, though too tightly packed. Frito misto, a sizeable, well-presented portion of king crab, calamari, scallop, shrimp and baby vegetables ($29) was crunchy and tender.
If beets aren’t on your top 10 list, give the beet-dominated, chopped salad ($16) a pass. If you do like them however, dig in. If octopus is your thing, don’t overlook the grilled baby octopus salad, a light eating delight replete with tomatoes, capers and potatoes enlivened by jalapeno vinaigrette ($21).
The freshness of the fish and the excellence of its preparation is noteworthy, yet the most memorable entrée I sampled was a relatively humble dish: A juicy, husky hamburger made with Tullamore Farms grass fed beef and crowned by cheddar, tomato and Bibb lettuce ($24). The fish sampled was a sumptuous Atlantic salmon powered by a chipotle corn/Asian pear/cilantro salad and Asian-inspired miso reduction ($38). Steak lovers should check out the absolutely buttery, unusually flavorful filet mignon of Australian Wagyu beef with a galbi demi glace and an accompanying scallion salad ($49).
Watch your step when ordering wine, the least expensive bottle, a rosé, goes for $48.
The menu’s many Asian touches (miso, lemongrass aioli, soy, wasabi, Asian pear, etc.) stem from executive chef Danny Dye, a Korean who worked for Notar at Nobu as well as in Europe.
Desserts ($11-12) are diminutive, even miniscule, yet not quite as predictable as they first seem. Strawberry shortcake, cheesecake, Black Forest cake and a sundae are all available, but not to be judged by their passive covers. Housemade ice cream, unusual in Island restaurants, elevates some dishes, especially the sundae. The unorthodox kiwi strawberry shortcake looks like no shortcake you’ve ever seen (two turrets) with virtually no strawberries. The cheesecake is standard stuff though the respectable Black Forest cake doesn’t deliver the deep chocolate flavor we expected.
photo by tom fitzgerald / thefphoto.com