Hamptons Restaurant Review: Cowfish

Photo by Stacy Dermont
Photo by Stacy Dermont

This restaurant has just reopened after a winter hiatus.

If you’re not from the South you might think that “Cowfish” is a funny name. If you’re from the South, where this is a popular restaurant name denoting eateries that serve both “surf” and “turf”—you may have lost sight of the fact that “Cowfish” IS a funny name.

Cowfish in Hampton Bays is a fun place—but the well-edited menu of seafood, burgers and salads is a bit serious. Local wines include those from Palmer, Paumanok and Mattebella Vineyards. Chef/owner David Hersh clearly puts a lot of himself into this place and his other establishment, Rumba, just down Canoe Place Road.

Cowfish’s entrées are different from those of Rumba’s—except for the “NOLA Shrimp Rumba” with its Worcestershire reduction, jasmine rice and cornbread. This one is so popular that it’s on the regular menu of both restaurants.

Incredible views of the water are to be had from both levels of the Cowfish building by day. By night you can feast your eyes on gorgeous paintings of boats by Carol Gold. It’s a big, open space inside, popular for parties, though they also offer off-site catering. In warm weather the wrap-around deck is packed. Manager Josh’s comment on off-season dining was “Now people can get in.”

Hersh’s four-year-old son stopped in for a visit while we were there. I expect Cowfish is popular with the younger set—there’s an outdoor play area and a “Little Fish” menu. Plus the music is cheerful and the staff friendly.

Our server Leslie suggested we start with cocktails. Done. I quite enjoyed my Prickly Pear Margarita while my husband had a “Homewrecker” served martini style. My cocktail was so good, I can’t remember what was in his—but he definitely liked it.

Husband and I went for shrimp to start, Jumbo Buffalo Shrimp with Danish bleu cheese. The “Buffalo” sauce flavor is right and the lusciousness of the seafood comes through.

We had to give Hersh’s Clam Chowder a try because it’s a perennial winner of the Hampton Bays Clam Chowder Contest. Ah yes, it’s creamy and the clams are clammy in a good way—not overcooked. Served with the requisite saltines. Hersh is not a local—but he moved here from Boston about five years ago, so he “knows from clam chowder.”

We both chose entrées from among the Fish of the Day specials. Husband ordered up Grilled Salmon topped with crab. He was a little overwhelmed by the combination but stuffed himself and happily lapped up his side of tender gold and red beets with
sage butter.

I ordered Seared Scallops with maple syrup risotto, spaghetti squash and rice. The scallops were tender and delish. The maple syrup risotto was too sweet for my taste, but the squash and rice were well prepared and tasty.

The Apple Cobbler with vanilla ice cream, caramel and walnuts tempted but Leslie gushed that we HAD TO try the Banana Cream Pie. We didn’t regret packing away this fluffy delight of vanilla bean custard, fresh banana, chocolate and caramel on a graham cracker crust.

We were fascinated to know what a “Pizookie” is. Leslie explained that it’s a big chocolate chip cookie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel, served in its own cast iron skittle—warm, of course…next time.

Cowfish, 258 East Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays, 631-594-3868, cowfishrestaurant.com

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