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« I left my heart at Gueros (Brooklyn) | Main | My Montauk ship has sailed: A 2012 Hamptons recap »
Thursday
Aug162012

Let's 'tauk seafood: Dinner at Dave's Grill

*NOTE: This restaurant has since closed.*

  • Restaurant  Dave's Grill
  • Cuisine  American, seafood
  • Location  468 West Lake Drive (Montauk, NY)
  • Phone  631-668-9190
  • Directions  Hopstop
  • Atmosphere  dimly-lit, indoor/outdoor dining, casual elegance
  • Attire  smart casual
  • Ideal for  small to medium-sized group dining, 1x1, older bar scene, al-fresco dining, views
  • Price  expensive

For my last meal in Montauk, I wanted to go somewhere with a reputation of serving excellent seafood.  Not that most restaurants in Montauk don't serve amazing seafood, but I wanted the best of the best.  And, according to locals and tourists, alike, Dave's Grill was *the* place to go. 

Although the restaurant has been around since 1988, it wasn't until this summer that I had first heard of Dave's.  But, then again, Montauk was just a sleepy fishing village until the yuppies took it over in 2008.  And, because MTK is "the hottest Hampton" these days, getting a reservation at Dave's is no easy fete.  Get this:  Dave's only takes reservations day-of.  The phone lines open at 4:15pm, and you may get a busy signal for a half hour before someone answers (...this was the case for me, at least).  After about 45 consecutive redials, I was told that a 3-top would be available at 10pm.  "Great!"  I exclaimed, "We'll take it!"

Located right by the docks on Montauk Harbor, Dave's breathes an air of elegance in to otherwise casual surroundings.  Terracotta-colored walls are adorned with large windows and back-lit oil paintings.  Nautical tchotchkes adorn shelves that overlook perfectly-set white tablecloths.  Booth and table seating are available, and guests can choose from either indoor or al-fresco dining.

Sarah, Nicole, and I arrived at Dave's just before 10pm, and were seated immediately.

Photo: Daves Grill dot comEven at 10pm, both the restaurant and bar were abuzz with jovial guests of all ages.  The atmosphere, mood, and welcoming staff really gave me the sense that I was on vacation.  And *not* on vacation in New York.  I can't really explain it, but I felt happily far away and, for once during my summer dining experiences out East, at ease.  Why?  Because I knew that the folks who were running the show here weren't going to try to up-sell appetizers or desserts, or raise an eyebrow if I ordered the damn "grilled quesadilla" over the lobster.  Honestly, almost every other restaurant I've been to this summer has been chock-full of snobby, know-it-all snoots.  

From the get-go, Dave's just seemed to be a breath of fresh, briny, sea air.

~

To start, Sarah and I chose to split an order of the Clams Casino (clams on-the-halfshell baked with breadcrumbs and bacon).

A half-dozen clams on-the-halfshell were individually topped with a breadcrumb mixture, that consisted of chopped bacon, butter, garlic, and parsley.  The shells were served atop a pool of melted butter.  A lemon wedge and two seafood forks accompanied.

Upon first bite, each plump clam ruptured in my mouth, giving way to a briny flavor remnant of the cold Atlantic waters.  The warm and crunchy breadcrumb topping added a peppy textural contrast to the dense flesh.  While the lemon notes calmed the inherent flavor of the clams, the melted butter added a sexy, rich naughtiness that proved perfect for soaking up with bread.

"Which would you recommend?"  I asked our kind server upon my turn to order an entree, "Dave's 'Original' Cioppino, or Dave's 'Famous Fish Stew?'"  Since her answer was "both, it just depends on whether you want a tomato or a cream-base," I told her to surprise me.  Hell, I don't discriminate!

And the winner was...Dave's "Original" Cioppino.

A chunky tomato and wine broth, dotted with onions and fresh parsley, was chock-full of fresh shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, lobster, and fish.  In true San Francisco style, the stew was topped with a heavily buttered piece of grilled sourdough garlic bread.

The fragrant, robust broth was seasoned so precisely that I did not even have to tweak it with salt/pepper.  Total shocker/rarity for me!  The bountiful array of shellfish was a true delight, and everything, aside from the "fish" (I couldn't tell you which type of fish), was exquisitely fresh.  Had it not tasted as if the fish was caught last year, this beautiful stew would have been perfect! 

C'mon, you *know* we didn't stop at entrees!  Obviously, the three of us ordered dessert...I chose the Homemade Crisp Du Jour.

Baked in a white ramekin was a melange of summer fruits:  Peaches, blueberries, and plums.  Bound by a lightly sweetened elixir, the fruit was topped with an ample mound of oat streusel.  The piping hot crisp was finished with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Although I prefer my pies and crisps cloyingly sweet, this version truly allowed for the natural flavors of the fruit trio to shine.  Instead of added sugar.  My favorite part of the dessert was the oat-y, crumbly streusel topping that magically soaked up the cold vanilla ice cream. 

The girls and I had a fantastic dining experience at Dave's.  From the location, indoor-outdoor seating, and proximity to the water - to the friendly staff and delicious food - Dave's is a Montauk gem.  I cannot wait to return in summer 2013!  I highly recommend this wonderful seafood sanctuary if, of course, you can score a reservation!

~~~

Until we eat again,  

The Lunch Belle

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