“A steak place, but not a steak place” is how Vanessa Price described Mavericks, her two-month-old venture perched dramatically on the eastern shore of Montauk’s Fort Pond. The big, beautiful piece of protein on your plate might be prime, dry-aged beef, but it might be a wood-fired bone-in tuna rib-eye with harissa or a hulking swordfish sirloin with vadouvan curry butter, or even a hearty slab of maitake mushroom with thyme and aged sherry.
Vegetables go far beyond French fries and onion rings: Executive chef Jeremy Blutstein uses local produce almost exclusively. Much of it comes from Marilee Foster’s family farm in Sagaponack, and he nudges his charges from merely fresh to supernal, charring carrots and serving them on a bed of basil labneh, topping asparagus with a coin of morel-infused butter, creaming spinach — but with marrow. This is a Long Island restaurant that serves only Long Island potatoes. Virtually all of the seafood — from the chilled Jonah crab claws served with fermented lemon aioli and smoked bluefish rillettes to the oysters (raw or grilled) and the whole fluke served a la meunière — were landed on the East End. (Most starters range between $22 and $32; mains, from $38 to $65.)
The wine list runs farther afield than Long Island. Price, a sommelier and author ("Big Macs & Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World,” Abrams, 2020) has put together one of the East End's deepest wine lists, with 350 selections ranging from aged Bordeaux to rosés from around the world to “weird Spanish wines” and vertical collections of Lebanese reds and whites.
Both Price and Blutstein live nearby, and they have conceived a business that they hope can sustain itself both before and after the summer crowds descend. This year, Price said, they will have to close in October because “we still have some more work to do on the building.” They also built some employee housing adjacent to the restaurant in an effort to surmount the labor shortage that gets more challenging the farther east on Long Island you go.
The 200-seat dining room has a timeless, casual elegance with lots of warm wood and the good sense to know that no décor can compete with the 180-degree view west across Fort Pond. As the sun sets and diners begin to squint, the shades on the enormous windows noiselessly descend, buffering the glare, but not obscuring the dusk. Up a few steps is a capacious bar complete with a communal table, sofas and a grand piano. Outside, more lounging opportunities and seating for about 30.
Mavericks takes over a 100-year-old building, originally a hotel with a restaurant, that was most recently East by Northeast and, before that, Stone Lion Inn, Windjammer and Bill’s Inn. Price said that her partners were attracted to the “diamond in the rough. It was a very special property — even though it hadn’t been taken care of very well.” Back in 2018, the original idea was to restore the building and open something modest, “but the snowball just kept getting bigger and we realized we had a great opportunity to do something special — even though we are at the end of the world.”
Mavericks, 51 S. Edgemere St., Montauk, 631-668-8506, mavericksmontauk.com. Open Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday 5 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 to 10 p.m.