Chillaxin’ at Ditch Plains

It’s a hot August day at the Ditch Plains dirt lot and a small crowd of bikini clad women is swarming the trailer at Turf. Owner and food trucker Zachary Lynd is up to his elbows in lobsters and lemonade. After the blur of benefits and private affairs his mobile business has taken part in lately, he decided to give his staff the day to recuperate. At his 12:30 p.m. opening time there was already a crowd, whose likenesses were reflected in the sleek exterior of his tricked out Air Stream.

After dropping into the scene amidst last season’s turf-war food vendor permit controversy, (hence the name) Lynd has settled into his sophomore year at Ditch with a curated quick-bite experience that combines three of our favorite things – surf culture, fresh local food, and fashion.

At 28 years old, Lynd is one of those adorably scruffy, uber-laid back, effortlessly fashionable types that seem to be popping up in Montauk with greater frequency. He speaks in a soft drawl that is more surfer than Texas. He helped his family open a restaurant in Austin before he headed for the Big Apple to study design and marketing. Somewhere along the line he met and fell in love with Montauk.

Despite the rash of criticism over Montauk’s landing on the map in its own right, Lynd believes the hamlet has a lot left to offer. There are many things about it that will never change, he said, but maybe some of the things that do, like an influx of food truck options, aren’t so bad. His goal is to diversify the dirt lot, not to step on the toes of the Ditch Witch. “Wraps and tacos have already been done. How about stuff from local farms and fish markets?” he said.

It’s no surprise that Lynd holds a School of Visual Arts master of branding degree. The dirt surrounding the Air Stream is decked out with unobtrusive marketing, from the ever changing neon-lettered signage (which on a recent day read something along the lines of “there is no life without lobsters,” in French) to the logos stenciled on the picnic tables.

Shirts and baseball caps bearing his brand are a prominent aspect of the display, manufactured with help from local screen printer Jesse Joeckel, who runs Whalebone Creative, an art-blog-lifestyle-fashion venture. Lynd maintains a running roll of idyllic summer images inspired by Turf on his own Web page, blog.andturf.com.

“Every single thing you buy here supports someone around here,” he said. Lynds uses purveyors Amber Waves and Balsam Farms, and gets his lobster from Gosman’s. His generator “is from Jimmy Hewitt,” he said, referring to the infamous owner of The Shagwong Restaurant.

The menu is simple, featuring a sinfully delicious lemonade acquired “from this girl at the farmers market” and a few light and refreshing salads, including a mouth watering marriage of watermelon and mint, and another crisp combination of radish, apple, and fennel. The lobster roll is the centerpiece.

I find lobster rolls to be one of the most boring items in the food universe – purists insist that lobster, mayonnaise and celery should be the only components, which just doesn’t do it for me. Lynd’s lobster roll offered a much appreciated combination of seasoning – Old Bay, lemon zest, and a bit of a cayenne kick – transforming the staple from something blasé to something refreshingly delicious. Lightly garnished with scallions, thinly coated in mayonnaise and presented on a bed of potato chips. There were ample portions of meat and the bun was toasted just enough to keep things from getting soggy. For these reasons, this was the best lobster roll I have ever had. Pooh-pooh to the purists.

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