The sign reads “Leave ATTITUDE AT DOOR.” Check. My husband and I were officially entering the real Montauk, “a little drinking village with a fishing problem” that’s expertly served by Westlake Fish House, located on Westlake Marina. Upon entry, we were greeted by whiffs of hot oil, booze, citrus and sea water.
Chef and co-owner Larry Kolar, named 2015’s Platinum Dan’s Best of the Best Chef, serves standard fish house specialties and offers a raw bar, but maybe you weren’t expecting his Korean BBQ sandwich, Udon Noodle Bowl or Croques Madame and Monsieur. Or his fun takes on seafood like the Surf & Turf Cheeseburger, Crab Nachos and loads of sushi. It’s a deliciously old-meets-new scene. Westlake Fish House’s children’s menu is not just the usual either—whole wheat cheese quesadilla, salmon with broccoli and rice, a grilled cheese with broccoli. I imagine it’s informed by Chef Larry’s 10-year-old twin boys’ predilections.
Husband and I wanted to taste a schmear of Chef Larry’s menu, so I started with a Saketini cocktail to sharpen my focus. This mix of sake and Crop Cucumber Vodka could be called a “sock it to me.” Husband enjoyed a glass of Sauvignon Blanc as we perused the menu. Local beverages include Bedell Cellars wine and Montauk Brewing Company’s Driftwood Ale. I suggested we share a Westlake Salad as an appetizer. Husband said, “I think that would be fun.” Followed by “I like sake,” which earned him a sip.
We found the Westlake Salad’s mix of local, tender calamari, whole basil leaves, mint, scallions, cilantro, Bibb lettuce and lime lively and fresh.
I went for the Lobster Roll Hot and I may never go back to cold lobster. It’s a better texture served warm and buttery on a classic-style roll, aka a hot dog bun. And it comes with a tossed salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine and pecans in a vinaigrette—so it officially has it all. Husband ordered his Grilled Salmon cooked medium. It was very much to his liking, served with asparagus risotto and pine nuts.
We weren’t really in a raw fish mood but we did want to try some sushi—so we ordered the Specialty Roll called The End. We found it to be a delish contrast of textures and flavors mango, cucumber, avocado and seaweed topped with pickled ginger.
James Lyons, a Westlake Fish House co-owner, came over to introduce himself. We got the impression that he often introduces himself to patrons. I couldn’t help but notice the directional tattoo on James’s left forearm. When I mentioned it, he said that when he was first introduced to Chef Larry they discovered that they had the same tattoo—on the same arm—and decided that it made great sense to go into business together. James pointed out, “Only in Montauk—it’s weird out here.”
After that one cocktail I told our affable server to cut me off, so he deadpanned, “You’re cut off.” But then Chef Larry came by and INSISTED that we do a shot of his favorite Tequila with him—Herradura. Herradura means horseshoe, presumably because “close only counts in horseshoes and after a shot of this stuff.” It’s smooth, and tastes of lime and pepper, which makes it kind of like vodka, but with flavor.
You can meet Westlake Fish House’s chef Larry Kolar at Dan’s ClambakeMTK, on July 8 at Gurney’s Montauk hosted by Geoffrey and Margaret Zakarian and sample his Smoked Monkfish with kale-almond slaw and lemon oil. You can also meet Kolar and sample more of his handiwork at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Co. hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli on July 22 on Fairview Farm in Mecox.