Hamptons Restaurant Review: Cowfish in Hampton Bays

There’s nothing quite like going to Cowfish on a Sunday night. Or any night, for that matter, but in this instance, it was a perfect ending to the weekend. There’s something familiar about Cowfish, even if it’s your first time there. From the gravel parking lot to the grassy front lawn, complete with Adirondack chairs facing the water and a mini-playground to occupy restless children, it’s a lot like being at the home of an old friend. Just around the corner from the main entrance is an outdoor patio and bar—the perfect place to kill a little time before dinner or just to meet friends for cocktails and appetizers. It was a little chilly on this particular June evening, so my boyfriend and I headed straight indoors where we were welcomed by a cozy, laid-back atmosphere and a friendly hostess. With 180-degree views overlooking Shinnecock Bay, I felt like I was still enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, just with the added comfort of a rustic, exposed-beam ceiling. Playing softly in the background was music from the Doors, the waitstaff were outfitted in various vintage concert T-shirts; clues that it was alright that we wore flip-flops. It seems to be the type of place where you could go either way with your attire; I’ve seen girls in heels and dresses as well as in shorts and T-shirts. Similarly, the menu allows for patrons to have a three-course meal or a variety of small plates that everyone can share.

We started off with two appetizers to share: Lobster-stuffed mushrooms and a Caesar salad. At first, we were speculating whether that would be enough, but the lobster-stuffed mushrooms were so rich that the three of them was the perfect amount. The mushrooms were the size of a half-dollar coin and were stuffed with lobster, shrimp, cornbread and tarragon. A Reggiano fondue sauce begged for each bite to be dipped in. The savory flavors went together brilliantly and the cornbread added a slight crispy texture. The Caesar salad was divided onto two plates for us, a pleasant and most-welcome surprise, and was delicious. The tender romaine lettuce leaves were extra-crispy and fresh and the dressing tasted of Parmesan but was not too heavy. Before I go any further, I must mention that complementing these appetizers were two cocktails: Cowfish Mule and Rum Punch. The Mule was my choice—was comprised of Tito’s Vodka, St. Germain, lime and ginger beer, it’s the ideal summer cool-off drink. The Rum Punch is sweet with tropical pineapple, mango and a hint of vanilla but packs a punch, and with any more than one you’ll be sailing off to the islands. (In the words of Martha Stewart, “It’s a good thing.”)

Entrees: Again, we were both delighted with our choices. The Cumin Encrusted Mahi, served with Spanish rice, tasso hollandaise and chipotle oil was “really good”—a bold statement coming from my boyfriend, who I often refer to as a “fish snob.” I went with the salmon, from the list of specials for the night, which was topped with lump crab and served with a side of corn on the cob and a wild-rice salad of sorts. It sounded a little overwhelming (who needs a crab on top of a fish?) but I was blown away. The very pink salmon was lean and cooked to perfection and the lump crab meat was equally delicious, offering a little flair. I’m rarely bored by simple, wholesome dishes but I do know people who are (ahem, present company). The corn and salad were tasty, but already full at this point, I pushed it aside to save what room there was for the dessert our waiter wouldn’t let us pass up: Banana Cream Pie. With a Graham cracker crust, vanilla bean custard and slices of bananas and swirls of chocolate and caramel sauce, this decadent dessert “took the cake.”

Cowfish is hosting Lobster on the Lawn, every Monday 4–9 p.m., until September 2. Choose from Lobster or Prime Rib and signature dishes while listening to live music. Guess for the summer I’ll have to make Cowfish a Monday night tradition! Cowfish is located at 258 E. Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays. 631-594-3868, cowfishrestaurant.com

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