Summer Lovin’: Restaurants and Recipes that won’t disappoint this summer

More than any other season, the summer revolves around food. Maybe it is the taste of your dad’s ribs that festers in your mind from Memorial Day to Labor Day, or that half melted salty margarita you sip while the sun beats down outside Dos Caminos Soho. Or maybe it is the buttery lobster you have down the shore or out East, that makes the overtime and Saturday hours you put in this winter seem not so terrible in retrospect. You even start thinking that maybe your boss might be a nice guy… (I’m getting carried away. He’s a tool. Lobster doesn’t heal all wounds. Only 85%.) My point is that everyone has a list of foods that call to mind the very essence of summer. The tongue-tickling things that make summer, well… summer.

While reading over the things that make my love affair with summer a stable and enduring one… think about the foods you have jonesed for all winter long, and don’t let this summer slip away without a little nookie.

From the annual crowd pleasers to the newbie summer spots, these restaurants and recipes should be incorporated into your summer bucket list. Trust me, they are worth a notch (in the wrong direction) on your belt.

Dave’s grill – Montauk, N.Y.

Why not start with the tip? Dave’s Grill couldn’t be further from Manhattan civilization. Literally, one step east and you are in the Atlantic Ocean. I wouldn’t have you schlep all the way out to Montauk if it wasn’t the best. Dave’s Grill is a real local type place, on the water, with the freshest of seafood and a bouillabaisse with healing powers. Not so fast. They don’t take reservations in advance. Guests can call day-of starting at 4:15pm for a reservation, Thursday through Sunday. I find the “everyone-in-our-party-repeatedly-dialing-from-different-phones-starting-at-4:00pm-method” works best. Get the Mini-Barbara for dessert and thank me later.

The Dutch – Soho, N.Y.

Oh, the witty titles I could come up with for a review of this place… Dutch Baby, Go Dutched to The Dutch, I don’t need Rosetta Stone to speak Dutch, Soho’s Newest Pearl, Puff Puff Pass the Cornbread. When I asked how they came up with the name, the manager replied, “it just sounded cool.” I can live with that. Wanna know what I can’t live without? The Dutch’s Little (fried) Oyster Sandwiches or their Asian White Boy Ribs. I can only suspect that a person with – let’s call it clouded judgment – came up with these delicious concoctions.

The rest of the menu, which includes an extensive raw bar, perfectly executed Asian, Southern, and American inspired dishes, and desserts like Devil’s Food Cake, fro yo sandwiches and homemade pies, are a stoner’s dream team. Highlights: Start with the complementary cornbread, then get the oyster sandwiches, ribs, Grilled Escolar, and the Devil’s Food Cake for dessert. The Dressed Crab in bloody mary cocktail and the Smoked Ricotta Ravioli were also amazing. If your stomach is up for the challenge, go for them as well. Do not pass The Dutch. (Last one, sorry).

Cyril’s Fish House – Amagansett, N.Y.

You know your are onto something good when a quarter of a mile out, cars are lining Montauk Highway to park, and happy hour-goers appear to be frolicking their way to the entrance of a shack just off the highway. Cyril’s is truly the epitome of summer. The are few things in this world that can compare to sitting outside at Cyril’s, washing down an order of coconut shrimp and a lobster roll with a signature BBC (Banana Baileys Colada) – add a “floater” – while listening to the live reggae band play No Woman No Cry. Being at Cyril’s feels as though the year was meant to culminate in that one afternoon of summer bliss. Keep an eye out for Cyril himself. He’ll be the dirty Santa look-alike chewing on his cigar. Lunch, Cyril’s well-known competitor from down the street, doesn’t compare. Tip: call ahead to see what days the band is playing at Cyril’s and head over after your mid-afternoon surf lesson.

Bowtie Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Peas

Obviously, like myself, you did not allocate your vacation days appropriately, and plowed through a majority of your days off during your mid-march crisis. This recipe is perfect for a stay-at-home Sunday night BBQ, or, to bring along when whoring yourself out to anyone with a pool in the tri-state area. This pasta salad is best at room temperature, so it travels well.

Ingredients: 2 packages of bowtie pasta; 2 packages of frozen peas; 2 large bundles asparagus; 2 Vidalia onions; salt; pepper; parmesan cheese.

Directions: Chop the onion and the asparagus into bite size pieces (asparagus should be about an inch in length). Sauté onions and asparagus in skillet with a little olive oil until tender. Add frozen peas. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl combine cooked pasta and veggies. Mix in a generous amount of parmesan cheese just before serving.

Teqa’s Tasty Mahi Mahi Tacos

In the past I have always wussed-out and made the kit of Old El Paso when making tacos, as I felt “authentic” tacos were out of my reach. With the help of Teqa, my new favorite taco spot in Murray Hill, I have learned a delicious and easy-to-repeat recipe for Mahi Mahi tacos. Teqa’s head chef helped me come up with a recipe to bring the fish taco from their kitchen to yours. Perfect for those margarita filled summer nights.

Ingredients: 1 package of flour tortillas; Mahi Mahi cut into strips; salt; pepper; Napa cabbage; red cabbage; jicama; lime juice; guacamole.

Directions: Season the fish with salt and pepper. In a screeching hot sauté pan, sear the fish on each side (use tongs to flip). Place the sauté pan in a 450 degree oven for 2-3 minutes to finish off the cooking process. Cooking the fish should only take 5-6 minutes total. To make the slaw, julienne the cabbage and jicama and combine in a mixing bowl with a little lime juice. Plate the fish with the slaw and a dollop of guacamole on top.

Imperial No. Nine – Soho, N.Y.

Savor the summertime in Sammy Talbot’s new garden greenhouse functioning as a sustainable seafood restaurant in the Mondrian Soho. It is there you can sip fruity cocktails and nosh on small bites while feeling like you are at an Alice and Wonderland tea party. Do not skip the cauliflower fritters and the king crab a la plancha. (To see the full review of Imperial No. Nine click here).

Hope you enjoy these summer recommendations from Legally Hungry!

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