The Montauk Yacht Club, on Lake Montauk, was once the hottest spot for America’s glitterati. When it opened in 1928, founding members included Astors, Whitneys, and Vanderbilts; Charles Lindburgh would fly in via seaplane. In recent years, though, it had grown a bit tired; it ached to be reincarnated. Bought by Gurney’s Resorts and newly revitalized with a $13 million renovation, the property—now Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina—debuted on Memorial Day weekend.
Showfish, the resort’s centerpiece, offers three meals a day—and even delivers “room service” to boats moored at the property’s marina. Chef Jeremy Blutstein, whom you last saw as chef d’cuisine at Almond in Bridgehampton, oversees all.
His seafood-driven menu at Showfish is split into several small sections: a few raw bar options (think Long Island littleneck clams and Peconic oysters), a selection of crudos (try the tuna with preserved lemon, capers, pumpernickel crumble, and smoked chile oil), and a trio of seafood platters joining the appetizer- and entrée-sized options. There are also plates sized for sharing, such as a dry-aged, bone-in “tuna ribeye.”
Blutstein is an East Ender by birth, an Amagansett native, and he’s earnestly repping his home turf with locavore farm-to-table cooking. “All the produce he uses comes from within 20 miles, except for the citrus,” the property’s publicist enthused to me. Locally caught seafood rests on ice in display cases near the restaurant’s entrance; symbols next to each dish on the menu denote from which local supplier specific menu ingredients are sourced, including area favorites such as Amber Waves Farm, Balsam Farm, and Quail Hill Farm; that same publicist told me that the carrots in the warm carrot salad appetizer go from ground to plate within six to eight hours.
The East End grows great produce—and its fishermen catch excellent seafood. It sometimes feels as though Chef is so enthusiastic about it all, however, that he’s trying to cram everything onto one plate. Behold the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” scallop entrée, which sees a handful of locally caught scallops paired with salty duck prosciutto, spicy curried sunchoke puree, and vinegary carrot chimichurri—multiple robust flavors all turned up to high decibels; the scallops, though, were perhaps the most expertly seared ones I’ve had. Then there’s the octopus appetizer, in which a grilled tentacle is joined on the plate by crushed potatoes, cubes of lamb bacon, salsa verde, and espelette pepper. And the carrot appetizer I mentioned above? The full description is carrots with harissa tahini, pomegranate molasses, saffron-pickled alliums, smoked ricotta salata, and sumac. (It’s worth noting that the menu will have frequent variations depending on the seasonality of ingredients.) Chef earns points for creativity, but with so many strong flavors jostling for prominence, it can feel as though your palate is hosting a three-ring circus. The pastry chef exhibits a bit more restraint, putting out more subdued desserts like a rhubarb tart with strawberry compote and a delightful tres leches cake.
The dining room feels as toned-down as the savory dishes are loud, its aesthetic falling somewhere between whitewashed summer house and nautical chic. Freestanding semicircular banquettes face the windows, optimized for taking in the view.
During breakfast, the sun blazes through the east-facing windows that overlook the marina. After devouring brioche French toast with whipped ricotta and strawberry jam, alongside a fruit bowl topped with watermelon granita, I sipped a coffee and watched masts bobbing gently in the tranquil air. I thought back on the previous night’s meal, and it occurred to me: Perhaps Chef Blutstein’s cooking verges on overly electrifying so as to contrast with the extreme serenity of this secluded corner of Montauk. Maybe life here needs a little spice, and a punch of potent flavor provides exactly the right balance.