This week Dining Out ventured off the beaten path to see what two chefs on the North Fork are cooking up.
cooperageinn.comMost Popular: Mussels Brousse; $16
Signature: Chicken Pot Pie; $26
Chef’s Favorite: Sesame Seared Tuna Carpaccio; $16.50
Cooperage Inn is located along the scenic North Fork Wine tour. Chef John Bauer has been at the helm for two years now. He was a line cook at Cooperage Inn for five years, and left for a stint in the corporate cooking world (as the chef at the Brookhaven Memorial Hospital) and returned when owner Jonathan Perkins, called looking for a head chef. Mr. Perkins was a chef himself at one time, and that is why Mr. Bauer said he has such a good working relationship with his boss.
“We always talk, we always bounce ideas off each other,” Mr. Bauer said about his relationship with the owner. “He’s a great guy and the reason why I came back.”
Both chefs are all about running a menu built around local farms, such as the Davis Peach Farm, produce from Schmitt’s Farm, Fox Hollow, as well as a few others. According to Mr. Bauer, the menu is comfort food with a twist.
The fan favorite is an appetizer, Mussels Brousse, which many customers order over pasta and enjoy as an entrée. Prince Edward Island mussels are sautéed with diced tomatoes, onions and fresh basil, steeped in a garlic wine broth, and topped with toasted bread crumbs.
Comfort food rules for the signature dish, the Chicken Pot Pie. For this dish, chickens are roasted whole in-house and the meat is pulled and mixed with carrots, celery, corn and potatoes and cooked in a creamy sherry sauce and baked in a casserole with a puff pastry crust.
“Everyone who orders it loves it,” Mr. Bauer said.
His favorite dish is the Sesame Seared Tuna Carpaccio, which is served over baby arugula, tossed in a Thai chili dressing and topped with crunchy bean sprouts, crispy wonton strips, cusabi sauce, chili oil and pickled ginger.
Cooperage Inn also just opened an on-premise beer garden, which serves all local brews. Food classics—such as bratwurst, fried chicken, burgers and Bavarian pretzels—are served in the garden.
Cooperage Inn, located at 2218 Sound Avenue, is open seven days a week serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., dinner from 3:30 to 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on weekends) and Sunday Country Buffet Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Blackwells Pub at Great Rock Golf Club
blackwellsrestaurant.comMost Popular: The Blackwell Burger; $12
Signature: Long Ireland Ale Battered Fish & Chips; $18
Chef’s Favorite: Grilled Summer Citrus Shrimp; $12
Blackwells Pub has gone through a couple of menu transformations over the past year, and general manager Brian Curtin believes the new pub-style menu will be the biggest winner yet.
“Our new menu is for people looking for something great, quick and affordable,” he said. “I hate to call it comfort food because it sounds dumbed down, but that’s what it is.”
Blackwells is all about a fun and laid-back atmosphere, with live music from Thursday to Sunday, and a bar that offers craft beers, 14 on tap, most of which are from Long Island.
“We are huge supporters of the craft beer scene, and the live music,” Mr. Curtin said. “It’s been fun. People like to have a good time and let loose.”
The crowd pleaser is the Blackwell Burger, which is 100-percent Black Angus beef, char-grilled and served with fries and a pickle. The dish is perfect for a burger and a beer after a long afternoon of golf.
Blackwells’ signature dish is true to its pub mentality of serving local brews. Fresh flounder is dipped in a beer batter made with Long Ireland Ale and deep fried. It is served with house-made tartar sauce. The chef’s favorite dish is the Grilled Summer Citrus Shrimp. The crustaceans are marinated with a Key West lime sauce, then grilled and served with cocktail sauce.
Blackwells Pub at Great Rock Golf Club is located at 141 Fairway Drive in Wading River. It is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to close. For more information, visit blackwellsrestaurant.com or call 929-1800.