Al Fresco and Culinary Bliss
at Solé East’s Backyard Restaurant
by Debbie Tuma
This setting is so beautiful, and the food so tasty…it would surely be overrun if not hidden behind the mature shrubbery and beautiful façade of Solé East Resort. Grab the kids or your foodie friends, as both will be pleased…and see for yourself.
I had heard that Backyard is the best pure play for food in Montauk from some perfectionista foodie friends…not mentioning the setting. I get it now.
Unlike many of Montauk’s downtown or dockside restaurants, The Backyard is a world of its own: it feels like you are in someone’s very private, lush garden overlooking their lovely swimming pool and expansive landscaping. You can choose to sit poolside at dinner tables, on the large patio in comfortably cushioned chairs, or inside in the bright, airy restaurant that has a fireplace and a wrap-around bar overlooking the patio.
Before sitting, my dining partner and I took a walk through the restaurant and discovered yet another, smaller private patio and then even more outside dining amidst a sprawling setting that invoked wonderment: hammocks nestled in corners on mature trees, firepits with s’mores being passed, kids playing quietly amidst the beauty as parents unwound with cocktails and convo on cloistered lawn chairs. Wow.
We had arrived about an hour before sunset and chose to enjoy the poolside patio, picking a table under a huge tree and wild lavender that grew all around. This bucolic setting, with the fading light turning to pink, helped us unwind after a busy Friday in the office. Others were enjoying the sofas and day beds that run beyond the poolside patio. All was quiet and serene. Fourteen-year Solé East owner Dave Ceva was there with his kids, taking a break from his busy life.
Our charming waiter, Antonio, brought us some specialty cocktails…that helped us further relax. The “Hot Tauk” was a spicy, jalapeno-infused tequila, with watermelon and lime juices, and agave. The “Montauk Melon” drink was made with vodka, basil, fresh lemon, and watermelon juice, and rimmed with black lava salt.
Backyard Restaurant’s General Manager, Sean Kiley, joined us on the patio, explaining that everything here is farm to table, with fresh deliveries of fish, seafood and produce coming in daily. “We like our food to be fresh and simple…when it is good, it doesn’t need to be fancy,” he explained.
Case in point, the appetizer of Wild Tuna Tartare was deliciously fresh, mixed with cucumber and served with soy, pickled ginger, wasabi, and taro chips. The Executive Chef, Eduardo Gomez, is creative with his combinations, such as the Grilled Portuguese Octopus, which Kiley, who has Portuguese roots, recommended. It was amazingly tender, served with gigante beans, oregano, harissa, caper berries and lemon: a beauty of a dish! And if you like rice balls, you should try their Arancini appetizer, a tasty and crunchy combination of Arborio rice, mozzarella, mushroom and panko. The blend is great! We also liked the Burrata appetizer: a dual-textured mozzarella cheese which is firm outside and has a creamy center. It was beautifully accompanied by blistered heirloom cherry tomatoes, basil, and tapenade crostini.
Antonio brought over a few entrees for us to try, including a huge chunk of perfectly cooked striped bass in a brown butter sauce with a delightful corn and quinoa succotash. Their special oven roasted chicken was unbelievably tender and juicy, served with polenta and broccoli rabe. We also loved the grilled monkfish, coated with a zesty salsa verde (cilantro) and served with grilled asparagus.
The Backyard Restaurant at Solé East also has what they call “The best Sunday brunch in Montauk,” with “the best pancakes in Montauk,” that are actually baked! Their “Hangover Special,” of short rib hash, fried eggs, spicy avocado and tomato salsa is a local hit. Sunday brunch, 11-3, also includes live music and swimming.
Backyard Restaurant at Solé East is open daily for breakfast at 8am, lunch, and dinner, through October 31. Call 631-668-2105 or visit soleeast.com.