Buoy One in Westhampton is hot. And for two reasons. One, it seemed to be filled with a lot of regulars, and I’m always surprised to see a restaurant with a crowd on an off-season Monday, regardless of the place. Two, the dishes were served at the perfect temperature, which, combined with the inventive flavors, was exactly what I wanted on a cool fall night.
I entered Buoy One and immediately felt at home in the dark wood interior. My booth had a great view of one of the two flat-screen televisions at the bar, and I was tempted to start my meal with a pumpkin beer from the Fire Island Beer Co. A good choice, as it was served with a brown sugar rim. One of the many pleasures of fall.
A quick glance at the menu revealed that Buoy One, while best known for its seafood, has something for everyone to enjoy. Chef Dave revealed that he has tried to make his restaurant a family friendly place that people could adopt as their top neighborhood eatery. From Dan’s Best of the Best Lobster Dinner 2011 to Asian-inspired entrees, daily specials and the more casual fried seafood baskets, Chef Dave’s extensive menu indicates that he has achieved his goal.
Celebrating its two-year anniversary in December, the Westhampton restaurant is the second addition to the Buoy One family. Their flagship location is in Riverhead. The two locales have similar menus, but the Westhampton Buoy One has a larger kitchen with a grill. This allows for a wider range of dining options, including steak and grilled fish.
I began my meal with an appetizer off of the specials board, recommended by my server Lisa—chicken cabbage dumplings. Served hot with a carrot and spinach salad, they were light enough to leave room for the main entrée, but hearty enough to satisfy my taste for comfort food. The soy sauce also had a nice subtle spice to it, and when combined with the sweet ginger dressing on the salad, the whole dish was a mix of unique flavors.
For an entrée, I decided to try out the perks of the new kitchen and went with the grilled salmon, which is topped with an onion marmalade and served over beluga lentils and broccoli rabe. A tuna option on the specials menu was served with the same sauce and sides, but there’s something about salmon that makes it hard for me to refuse.
The salmon was lightly grilled and went well with the flavors of the fresh broccoli rabe. It was prepared simply, and the sweet onion flavor was allowed to come out without being overwhelming. And, I enjoyed the kick that a fresh squeezed lemon, included on the side, gave the meal overall.
Also on the specials menu was a grilled whole Mediterranean sea bass served with roasted potatoes and asparagus. Though initially only the preferred dish of the adventurous—there’s something imposing about a whole fish that may frighten timid diners—Lisa noted that it has quickly climbed the ranks and is now one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes of all.
Also on the list of must-tries: an almond-crusted flounder with whipped sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli; and, of course, the lobster dinner. Lobster lovers can have their choice of preparation: steamed, baked or, perhaps most salivating, stuffed with crab meat.
Buoy One is open year round, seven days a week for lunch, dinner, cocktails, catering—offering full service clambakes and shore dinners—and takeout. Every Thursday in December and on Sunday, December 23, Buoy One will host a “Night of Seven Fishes.” The event pays homage to the Italian holiday tradition of the Feast of Seven Fishes, held annually on Christmas Eve. Buoy One’s version features seven courses and unlimited house wine for $42. Delicioso!
Buoy One, 62 Montauk Highway, Westhampton, phone 631-998-3808; and 1175 West Main Street, Riverhead, phone 631-208-9737 or visit Buoyone.com.