July 19, 2006

Main Course

Gurney's: A Seaside Retreat

Tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Montauk's winding roads and rolling hills, The Sea Grille Restaurant at Gurney's Inn Resort and Spa offers the ideal respite for drivers who brave the trek out to The End. And the trek is well worth it.

The staff at Gurney's clearly understands how to give their customers a fine dining experience without the pretension that often comes with that. A welcome change, indeed.

Pull into the parking area and a valet will take care of the rest. While this luxury is optional, you might find parking on your own to be a protracted mission because Gurney's is often packed with visitors either staying at the hotel or indulging in the surroundings for just a few hours.

True to its location, this seaside inn has honored its hamlet's maritime history with a classy, nautical ambiance woven through the hallways the spa and the restaurant.

The dining room is a grand ballroom that keeps expanding as you round a corner. It has an old ship romance quality to it, with dark brown wooden chairs, a giant ship's steering wheel converted into a chandelier, and, of course, the sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.

We came on a Wednesday night, which could have easily been confused with a Saturday night given the crowds and special events. Gurney's offers a lobster bake special on Wednesdays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. ($45 per person, kids under 10, $25), complete with a very patient person dressed in a lobster suit walking around greeting the guests. A comedy act is provided in the latter half of the evening.

For starters we ordered the mussels luciano, steamed with a light, but generous portion of white wine garlic sauce, perfect for dipping, Gurney's crab cakes with fresh, regional crab and a remoulade sauce on the side, and the caprese salad, a mild dish of fresh mozzarella di bufala with Roma tomatoes, fresh basil and imported extra virgin olive oil elegantly displayed.

For a table of three, these dishes would be more than enough to satisfy the appetite while still leaving room for the main course.

From the regular menu we tried the veal saltimbocca sautéed with spinach, sage, prosciutto di parma and marsal ($23.95) made up of tender pieces of meat that went down like comfort food.

The broiled sea scallops alla monte, with lemon butter white wine and seasoned Italian breadcrumbs over rice pilaf ($25.95), were flaky and packed a surprisingly powerful punch of flavor after squeezing fresh lemon over it.

From the pre-fixe specials, we ordered the Seafood Delight — a generous serving of lobster, shrimp and scallops bathed in a creamy tomato sauce over a bed of penne that melted in your mouth.

Desserts were a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. Because the dessert menu is always changing, our server brought over an alluring tray of delectable goodies. We sampled the crème brulee, which was made sweeter with a subtle orange glaze. We also picked the English Trifle, a concoction of almonds, fresh berries, cream and sponge cake, and the tiramisu, both served in large wine goblets, an unusual and attractive display. Each dessert was light and creamy, a satisfying and refreshing conclusion to our little feast. Strong coffee completed the meal . . . and made driving home a breeze!

Gurney's Inn Resort and Spa

290 Old Montauk Highway

Montauk, NY 11954


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