My husband and I took our son and another couple out to dinner at The Plaza Café in Southampton last Saturday night.
We were amused by the sizeable all-weather banner hung on the outside of the restaurant, touting its Zagat superiority. The place was full of tourists, but thankfully not crushingly so. In this big, bright box of a restaurant the tables are not crowded too close together. It’s done up in yellows and blues with painted wooden fish and seashell moments. As the fish head in their logo implies, The Plaza Café is all about seafood.
Chef Doug Gulija sent out an amuse-bouche of gazpacho with avocado mousse piped on top. This suggested good things to come as the gazpacho was nicely seasoned. The base had a pleasant texture, in contrast to the creaminess of the avocado.
I started with the Long Island Lobster-Corn Chowder. Butter-poached lobster and corn shoots are a fine combination. Cream and a good amount of black pepper made it even better. I noted that the corn kernels were just right for this dish—not tiny, not tough. [expand]
One of our guests and Teenage Boy started with a Tuna & Crab Tian of tuna tartare, crab ceviche, avocado puree and yuzu vinaigrette. The tuna and crab melded nicely, the avocado was a bright, delightful note.
Husband started with the Hog Neck Bay Oysters, served with vodka crème fraiche and American caviar. Served on a pretty bed of ice, he found the oysters appropriately “cold and good.” He enjoyed the house Pinot Grigio throughout his meal.
We were so involved with our guests that Husband and I inadvertently ordered the same entrée. We like to mix it up, compare and contrast. We both found the Seared Local Sea Scallops with sweet corn polenta overly sweet. The sea bean-shitake ragout was a little triumph of savoriness within the dish.
One of our guests ordered the Penne with Sweet Gulf Shrimp with pancetta, chanterelles, corn, basil and ricotta salata. Our other guest had the Local Monkfish Stuffed with Lobster. She ordered it “a little less cooked than most people.” I found it almost smoky in its deliciousness. She didn’t much care for it. Teenage Boy finished it off for her. He said it didn’t grab him either, after he’d scarfed down the last bit. I did find the pea puree to be a distraction from both the main dish and the savory goodness of the bacon and black trumpet mushrooms.
Teenage Boy ordered one of that night’s specials, Mako Shark. It came in a sizeable portion, which he finished before I could try it. He finished his meal with a Classic Crème Brulee, also sizeable. It was accompanied by strawberry-rhubarb compote.
We all sampled a Raspberry-Peach Crisp, which was nicely tart, in welcome contrast to the scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of it.
One of our guests said that his Cranberry Juice and Seltzer was one of the best he’s ever had. He is a true connoisseur, sampling this beverage around the globe.
I wanted to stay completely sober, better to talk with our new friends. So I did not allow myself to be enticed by The Plaza Café’s extensive wine list, even when the Wölffer Merlot called to me…
The Plaza Café, 61 Hill Street, Southampton. 631-283-9323. www.plazacafe.us.