New Gurney's in Montauk: First bites

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Tuna tartare tacos with soy-sauce

Tuna tartare tacos with soy-sauce "pearls" are served at The Seawater Grill at Gurney's in Montauk, in July 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Peter M. Gianotti

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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.

The checks still refer to The Sea Grille and Cafe Monte. But, except for the ocean view and the resort's footprint, they're all that remain of the decades-old dining experience at Gurney's Inn.

Actually, Gurney's Inn is history, too. Under new ownership, it's officially known as Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa. Nautical kitsch has gone overboard in favor of a sleek, contemporary style.

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That applies to the main restaurant, too. Now, it's The Seawater Grill. And you won't find either a ship's wheel or baked clams alla Monte. It's as if the dining room itself has had a reviving spa makeover.

Executive chef Seth Levine introduces some playful molecular gastronomy to the menu, along with updated comfort fare and very good seafood, raw and cooked. It all means that Gurney's is a dining destination.

Levine's artful Montauk fluke crudo, with micro fennel, crisp shallots, watermelon radish and grapefuit-inflused olive oil, is refreshing; his refined tuna tartare tacos, with soy-sauce "pearls," are both subtle and flavor-packed.

But it's not tout new-wave Montauk. The kitchen sends out a fine steamed lobster,  with baked potato and corn on the cob, too.

Anyone who'd been to Gurney's since the 1980s will find a lot of this startling, risky, gutsy  ... and very welcome.

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The Seawater Grill at Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, 290 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk; 631-668-2345.


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