Union Cantina in Southampton opened in July and is serving up a unique pulqueria-inspired menu that is already making friends with locals and vacationers. Chef Scott Kampf, who also works at the Southampton Social Club, wanted to create a casual eatery that prepares approachable, everyday cuisine with a Mexican flare. To help you figure out what to order, I caught up with Kampf to learn about some of the recent crowd-favorites.
There is no such thing as too much cheese. Kampf slowly melts asadero, cheddar, mozzarella and queso blanco for a sauce he likes to refer to as “mac n’cheese on steroids.” The asadero adds a savory punch, giving the spread a rich and creamy consistency perfect for dipping crispy tortilla tips.
Mexican Sweet Corn
Kampf takes sweet and spicy to a whole new level with this dish. He boils local corn about a minute to add tenderness, then grills it until it’s charred with smoky flavor. He finishes off the plate by painting chipotle cream, cotija cheese and queso blanco onto the ears. “The spice from the chipotle, the mildness of the cheese and the sweetness of corn give it a really good well-rounded taste”—that satisfies all the senses.
Union Cantina does the ultimate Mexican comfort dish right. Kampf stacks crunchy corn tortillas and three layers of fresh corn, chicken, black beans and herb-infused spices. To cool down the dish, he tops the tower with a scoop of pico de gallo and a chunky guacamole spread. “The multiple textures make it different: it’s crispy, fresh and creamy all in one bite.”
Good things come in threes. The seared snapper is served on a warm corn tortilla with a smooth blend of avocado cream. Drizzled Caribbean spice turns up the heat, but Kampf mixes in sugar to extinguish some of the initial blaze and make cooling off a dulcet treat.
This king of the grill doesn’t play by the rules. Marinated in a seven-spice blend, Kampf let me in on three of his secret ingredients. Dark chili powder enhances the smokiness, habanero ignites the fire and the cumin releases “a taste of Mexico.” Served with boniato mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus this entrée “brings two extremes of flavor,” but consumed together delivers just the right kick.
For more on Kampf’s backstory, look out for the September issue of Pulse.