The Poulakis family has owned The Hampton Maid in Hampton Bays since 1959, but it's safe to say that founders John and Marion Poulakis could never have predicted that the dining room would be serving Galician goose barnacles with seaweed and horseradish or Iberico pork belly bao buns with angel hair potatoes. That, however, is what happens when you hire chef Alex Bujoreanu, one of Long Island’s most ardent practitioners of Spanish-inflected modernist cuisine.
Tara Poulakis, granddaughter of John and Marion, said that she met the chef last year and, starting in November, had engaged him to do pop-up dinners a few times a month. With its distinctive cedar-shake windmill and sweeping view of Shinnecock Bay, The Hampton Maid has always had a homey, family-friendly air. But, said Tara, "we are trying to make it more of a destination, to bring on more luxury while maintaining the family atmosphere."
And so, starting in July, Bujoreanu came aboard full time and started serving six-course chef’s tasting menus every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. The menu changes every week, but recent courses have included wild halibut with sweet peas, salsa verde and tiny carrots; rack of veal with bok choy and salsa Espanola; shishito peppers with bonito (cured tuna) flakes and smoked peppercorns; sous-vide artichokes with bottarga (cured mullet roe), lemon aioli and chlorophyll extract. Desserts have been less far out: mango cheesecake with coconut, lime and mango coulis; olive oil cake with blood orange-elderflower ice cream. The price is $95 per person; for an additional $65, you can have a wine paired with each course.
Bujoreanu was most recently at Lola’s Craft Kitchen & Cocktails (now Roc & Olive) in Long Beach. He opened Viaggio Tapas in Rockville Centre (in 2014) and Toro Tapas and Tequila in Patchogue (in 2016) and then went on to led the kitchen at Coral in East Moriches, which earned three stars from Newsday and was named one of LI's top Latin restaurants for 2018. He selected the name "R.AIRE" for his concept at the Hampton Maid because he is committed to showcasing culinary rarities such as those goose barnacles, a crustacean from the Eastern Atlantic; carabineros, deep-sea scarlet shrimp; or even kangaroo meat.
The Hampton Maid is well known for its lavish breakfast service (handled by Tara’s father, Steve Poulakis, and brother, Josh Poulakis), but it hasn’t served dinner since shortly after it opened.
The Hampton Maid is at 259 E. Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays, 631-728-4166, hamptonmaid.com.