Hamptons Epicure: Livin’ It Up in Montauk

Husband/rock star Daniel Koontz with Nancy Atlas Project and Chad Smith
Husband/rock star Daniel Koontz with Nancy Atlas Project and Chad Smith, Photo: S. Dermont

Observing the Dan’s Papers staff tradition of heading out to Montauk on summer Wednesdays—I did. It was a cool evening and my husband and I arrived with plenty of time to catch the Nancy Atlas Project’s set at the Surf Lodge. We took a stroll out to the pavilion in Kirk Park. This little gem is one of those public projects that Robert Moses got right. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so—a little fawn was having a grand time munching on cattails on the pond’s edge nearby. After I snapped his photo, he haughtily strutted back into the marshland. He was just so over the paparazzi.

A message reverberated across the water—the sound of a screaming guitar riff. So we headed over to the other side of the pond for the live music. The Surf Lodge was packed, but somehow I got a seat right next to a friend of mine in the front row. As I sat down, she said, “Chad Smith was just sitting there!”

Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith is in the house?! “Is he going to sit in with the band?”

Though research has shown that the only thing cooler than the Nancy Atlas Project live is “The Project” with Smith on drums, things got cooler still. Husband was invited onstage to work the keyboards! What can I say? I’ve been married to a “rock star” for years and the wild set was further confirmation of his status. This Montauk supergroup played some Santana, Otis Redding, Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart with all the blue-eyed soul and moneymaker shakin’ there is.

But the very best thing about playing an impromptu guest spot is that, when the show’s over, you don’t have to help load out the equipment. So after the excitement, Husband and I had one thought on our minds: Mexican food!

That thought led us to South Etna Avenue—it doesn’t run like the other “Souths” in Montauk—it’s behind the Montauk Garden Center, parallel to Montauk Highway. People have been raving about El Vaquero so we were excited to try it. While we were deliberating over the menu a friendly stranger said to us, “Their ceviche is really good!” So we ordered that—and a Nachos Supreme with bits of steak to share; chicken gorditas for me; a taco platter for Husband—with one chorizo, one marinated pork and one fried pork taco. Husband didn’t share at all so his stuff must have been good. Those big, hot salty gorditas were killer. We wolfed it all down at a picnic table in front of John’s Pancake House. VERY filling fare. I don’t feel guilty about using the table there because John’s was closed and we thoroughly cleaned up after ourselves. At least I think we were thorough; it was pretty dark. I packed up about half of the nachos for breakfast.

Home to our private Wölffer wine tasting and off to bed to dream of next Wednesday in Montauk. Zzzzzzzzzz

Follow Stacy’s adventures on Twitter @hamptonsepicure.

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El Vaquero in Montauk
El Vaquero in Montauk, Photo: S. Dermont

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