Chef Chris Rendell uses Montauk fluke to bring a little local flavor into his British pub grub
Summer has definitely descended upon us. For New Yorkers, that means weekends spent off our island and out to the far end of Long Island. But it isn’t only those off the clock that shuffle between the two isles. Executive chef Chris Rendell is playing that balancing act this season, manning the stoves of the West Village’s Whitehall Bar + Kitchen and Montauk’s The Surf Lodge. But it’s at both restaurants where he prepares his modern British grub using the best the East End has to offer.
His most revered ingredient: fluke. While Rendell is new to these parts, his chef-dar led him to the absolute best source for seafood. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” Rendell says. “It’s quite fresh, it’s almost translucent and it’s so beautiful.” The silky, white fish is caught in the local waters by Montauk fishermen and purchased off the dayboats by the 50-year-old Gosman’s Dock — a seafood purveyor and institution for Hamptonite epicures.
Back at the restaurants, Rendell prepares his summer fluke two ways, but both touch on his English side (his father is from Liverpool) and his fondness for the Asian colonies once ruled by Britain. “The flesh is very delicate and tasty,” Rendell explains. At The Surf Lodge, Rendell steams the fluke, which he says is “the best way of cooking it and preserves the natural flavor.” The fluke is paired with Asian greens prepared in a ginger broth and served with a pickled ginger salad with cilantro and scallion. “I keep it nice and simple to let it shine.”
The Surf Lodge, 183 Edgemere Street, Montauk, (631) 668-1562
Whitehall Bar + Kitchen, 19 Greenwich Avenue at West 10th Street, (212) 675-7261