Montauk Restaurant Review: Sea Grille at Gurney’s Inn

Shrimp Caeser salad at Gurney's Inn
Shrimp Caeser salad at Gurney's Inn. Photo credit: Kelly Laffey

They say it takes an intrepid soul to journey out to Montauk in the offseason. But in reality, it just takes someone who’s in the mood for fresh seafood, and—especially before the summer crowds arrive—a good deal.

I journeyed to Gurney’s Sea Grille on a particularly chilly night. Though visions of lobsters had been dancing in my head since Tumbleweed Tuesday, I was sidetracked from ordering food by the wine selection that greets you when you first open the menu. Like most restaurants on the East End, Gurney’s has a local selection. But separating the Sea Grille from the pack is the volume of offerings—Lieb Cellars, Wölffer Estate, Castello di Borghese and Martha Clara are among the Long Island bottles that grace the menu, in addition to California and international wines.

My glass of Lieb Pinot Blanc secured, I turned to the dinner menu. Like the wine list, the Sea Grille’s food menu is extensive, with multiple options from the land and sea, including vegan, vegetarian and macrobiotic offerings. Gurney’s also offers a daily prix fixe—three courses for $28.95.

The highly anticipated lobster roll caught my eye, the final item listed under starters. The housemade lobster salad wasn’t overly mayonnaise-y, and was nicely complemented by the overly buttered toasted roll; “overly buttered” is a compliment, as females too often deny themselves the creamy indulgence. Clearly, Gurney’s knows what they’re doing. Give yourself permission to enjoy.

Though my mom was tempted by Gurney’s Famous Crab Cakes as an app—we’ll have to come back to find out what really makes them famous—she decided to sample the tuna carpaccio. Seared Ahi tuna is served on a wonton crisp with an edamame purée. The chip was the perfect vehicle on which to indulge in the Asian-inspired plate.

For an entrée, we both ordered from Gurney’s New Favorites section. (Gurney’s Old Favorites include filet mignon and a divine-sounding scungilli and calamari fra diavolo.)

I was in the mood for something lighter after eating an entire lobster roll—though it’s the perfect snack, if you stop into Gurney’s for a drink and an ocean view—I went with the Cajun shrimp Caesar salad. Four tender jumbo shrimp were grilled and dusted with Cajun spices, served atop a Caesar salad. The dish was the perfect complement to the lobster roll, lighter with just the right amount of kick. And, Gurney’s does not skimp on the Parmesan.

My mom went with the pan-seared, local dayboat sea scallops, which are served on a bed of seaweed salad and topped with red pepper coulis and caviar. She noted that the scallops were exactly as they were billed—fresh, fresh, fresh—and, if only she could sample them outside with an ocean view once the weather turns…

Though we were stuffed, dessert was too tempting to pass up. We each grabbed a cup of coffee, enjoying it with a medley of pastries. Coffee is served by the pot, giving us the energy to get into the car and embark on the trek home.

Gurney’s will host a number of festivities over the parade weekend. The Grand Marshal Luncheon, honoring the 52nd Annual Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal, Gurney’s GM and CEO Paul Monte, will be held on March 21 from noon until 3 p.m. Tickets are $50, and reservations are suggested. Gurney’s will also host a Gala Cocktail Party on March 22 from 4–8 p.m. Tickets are $60 in advance and $75 at the door. Those who wish to stay overnight can inquire about the $350 two-night special, which includes ocean-view accommodations and use of the seawater spa facilities.

The Sea Grille at Gurney’s Inn Resort, Spa & Conference Center, 290 Old Montauk Highway, Montauk. 631-668-2345,

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