Swallow East in Montauk is a great place to get shwasted. I know this first hand, but having enjoyed myself there I highly recommend that, before you get to that state, you enjoy a selection of dishes from the menu.
In addition to being remarkably open and welcoming, Swallow East is a contender for hippest eatery in Montauk—authentic Montauk photos on the wall, a cute staff, PBR on the bar menu, loads of outdoor seating. And the swallow name and logo are based on the traditional nautical tattoo of a migrating bird.
On a recent Thursday evening my friend, Chef Bunnii Buglione, and I were happy to try a number of small plates from the menu of 18 regular items. We ordered six, plus dessert. I ended up taking about half of our bowl of Curry Mussels home to my husband. The ginger notes weren’t quite as prominent by the time the “hubby bag” reached Sag Harbor, but he quite liked the bivalves. I promised we’d check out Swallow East together soon—if they let me back in.
Swallow East is a big place. Bunnii and I sat near the open kitchen, but not at its counter. This was a good thing because, I don’t presume to speak for Bunnii, but I would have flirted intensely with the cute chefs back there.
Bunnii started with a Mini Wedge Salad, with a not-that-mini wedge of iceberg lettuce. It features tomatoes, Maytag blue cheese and a buttermilk dressing that we agreed had a delightful dose of mustard in it. I began with the Slow Roasted Beet Salad, which includes, in addition to red beets, very fresh arugula, creamy goat cheese, Fuji apple slices and candied pistachios under a honey vinaigrette. Eating the holy trinity combo of beet/cheese/nut was a blast!
Both of these salads—in fact most of the dishes we saw—are given a beautiful presentation and generally the “small plates” are not so small.
I dove into a Burrata Mozzarella with almond pesto and cherry tomatoes, which was drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The almond pesto was as good as I’d hoped it would be, a fabulous texture. Bunnii helped me a bit in devouring the gooey, rich cheese. I should probably find a dining partner who eats more to better keep me from overindulging. (Though goo is my favorite food group, which can’t be helped.) Bunnii is a dear friend and something of an enabler. Here’s where the trouble started: I ordered and thoroughly enjoyed a cold pint of Montauk Brewing Company’s Session IPA, which Swallow East has on draught. Bunnii ordered Swallow East’s “Mademoiselle” cocktail, which contains prosecco, St. Germain, Lillet Rose and a curl of fresh orange. She took two tiny sips, said she loved it, but that it was too strong for our designated driver and handed it over to me.
The gluten-sensitive Bunnii had the Margarita Wings, which our helpful server Liz assured us are not flour-coated. Their honey lime glaze leaves them tasting primarily of mild vinegar. They’re quite good and they talk. They say, “Drink beer with me all night long!” Interesting.
Bunnii was excited to see Pomme Frites on the menu and declared upon trying them that they are “potentially the perfect french fry—like mashed potato inside, not greasy, not coated in flour.” I concurred—hand-cut, served with rosemary and a mild thyme aioli, these little babies hit all the marks.
Bunnii ordered a coffee to accompany our shared dessert as if SHE needed to sober up. Our hot, housemade waffle arrived topped by two scoops of vanilla gelato, the whole sprinkled with chocolate mini chips. Bunnii forked a chunk of waffle and immediately declared, “That’s worth joint pain.” Of course I ended up eating most of this light confection and its gelato buddies.
I forgot to grab my packaged mussels and Liz was nice enough to run after us to give them to me again. I stumbled into Bunnii’s car. There followed some trespassing at a property in Amagansett. I’m pretty sure that the images in my head involving the destruction of old-style gas pumps are just a dream that I had.
Swallow East, 474 West Lake Drive, Montauk, 631-668-8344, swalloweastrestaurant.com