Montauk Restaurant Review: The Backyard Restaurant at Solé East

Solé East’s “Backyard”—how good could the food be at such a hip hotel restaurant? Outstandingly good!

There’s a new chef at the Backyard this season—Adam C. Pitré. In fact, when we visited for dinner Pitré had only been facing the stove at Solé East for a few days. His mark was already clear—he had a new, large grill installed and he knows how to use it, on everything from entrées to bread to the lemon halves you squeeze over seafood. Plus he’s making all of the pasta in-house.

We parked along Second House Road and passed into the hotel’s lobby. Upon entering we were greeted with a fine vanilla scent in the air, a good sign. We passed through the lobby, and then through an allée of bamboo trees to the Backyard restaurant. It’s like a dream pool house, with fun, funky décor and a surfer vibe.

In fact, the expansive bar runs along the wall that borders a large in-ground pool. Between the hotel and the pool there’s a line of huge outdoor sofas for reclined recreation. If it had been a warmer evening, I’m sure we would have taken a little poolside refreshment before settling in for dinner, but there was quite a chill in the Montauk air this particular evening.

We sat at a table inside and ordered drinks to start. It’s a good sign when you can’t remember exactly what you drank—but you’re left with a lingering, pleasant sensation.

I started with the Backyard’s award-winning clam chowder. I noted that it won the Montauk Clam Chowder Contest the year that I served as a judge—in 2011. I was eager to see if I remembered it, though it seemed a long shot. Ah, but here was an old-fashioned, traditionally creamy chowder with potatoes, corn, chunks of several different kinds of clams and thyme. Ah yes, I remembered it well. I “voted for it” all over again!

Husband started with a tower of tuna tartare, which rested on a tasty Asian slaw and was topped with corn microgreens. It was simple and fresh, as it should be, and the corn sprouts added a pleasant grassy note.

I had the big, juicy grilled scallops. Wow. Followed by house-made gnocchi in pesto—the best gnocchi I’ve ever had. For the first time I could appreciate why they are sometimes referred to as “pillows.”

Husband had to try the ceviché, so he did, and was quite impressed. The tender fish was served on thin cucumber slices and topped with rings of red pepper, which added a welcome piquant note.

We tried the skirt steak. Does it sound like we ordered a royal bunch of food? I highly recommend doing so at a good restaurant. Go for it. The skirt steak was just as it should be—it had some chew and a fine grilled flavor. It was accompanied by bitter greens.

We, quite contentedly, had no room for dessert. There’s always next time. We fully intend to visit the Backyard again for another round of fine dining. We look forward to seeing what Chef Pitré will do with local ingredients as the season progresses.

The Backyard Restaurant at Solé East, 90 Second House Road, Montauk, 631-668-2105, soleeast.com.

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