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June 1, 2012
Review: Blackwells Restaurant
By Laura Donnelly
Dining at Blackwells feels like being invited to Grandma and Grandpa's country club, but without the airs. It is big and has mahogany paneling everywhere, a book lined library, a larger formal dining room, and a beautiful bar with the kinds of mounted fish that would make Papa Hemingway jealous. A piano greets you in the foyer, along with some very cool vintage hunting, fishing, and golfing photographs. There is an outdoor dining area looking out onto the first tee of the Great Rock Golf Club, a manmade pond with a fountain, and beautiful landscaping all around. Best of all, there is a lovely flagstone patio with a roaring fireplace that diners can enjoy every night of the year unless it's raining. Nearby a big tent is set up for various special events, church outings, weddings, and large parties.
The staff at Blackwells are friendly, welcoming, and knowledgeable. Our waiter and the manager looked more like handsome golf pros who had just shot their age not their temperature. Ha-ha, that's golf lingo, folks. You can look it up after you polish off your mashy Niblicks and hit a wormburner.
Upon being seated in the library dining room (maroon velvet curtains with tasseled ties all around) we received a basket of warm breads, cornmeal madeleines, tiny squares of focaccia, pretzel rolls, and cheese biscuits. We began our meal with the jumbo shrimp cocktail, wedge salad, and baby lamb chops. The jumbo shrimp cocktail was very nice, the four huge shrimp were nestled in a martini glass filled with a mild cocktail sauce and garnished with celery sticks. The shrimp were room temperature which is always tastier than ice cold. The wedge salad was also very good, topped with cherry tomatoes, plenty of blue cheese, and crisp crumbled bacon. The three baby lamb chops were delicious and tender served with a little mesclun salad on the side, also topped with sliced cherry tomatoes.
For entrees we ordered the New York strip steak, the "Queen cut" filet mignon (that's 10 oz. as opposed to the King cut which is 14 oz.), the lobster Newburg, and a side order of creamed spinach. Both steaks were cooked perfectly to order and were served with little gravy boats of a marinara-like sauce spiced up with a bit of worcestershire sauce. The steaks were to be accompanied by a fresh tomato bruschetta, but this appeared to be more like a few sliced cherry tomatoes with some diced red onion. The lobster Newburg was a nice presentation, creamy sherry infused lobster bits with garlicky green beans and an herb flecked risotto. The creamed spinach was also very good, made with fresh baby spinach leaves and topped generously with grated parmesan cheese.
It was our wonderful waiter's idea to enjoy our house made desserts and coffee out by the fireplace which we very much enjoyed. We tried the New York cheesecake, creme brulee, and Belgian chocolate torte. The cheesecake was very nice, creamy and fresh tasting with a good graham cracker crust. The creme brulee was just right, silken rich custard with a crackly sugar topping. The chocolate torte was also delicious, more like a good homemade chocolate pie than torte, with rich chocolate flavor.
Prices at Blackwells are $6 to $12 for appetizers and salads, $34 to $78 (for two) for steaks, $12 to $38 for other entrees, $4 to $8 for side dishes, and $8 for desserts.
We enjoyed our visit to Blackwells, from the beautiful setting to the marvelous service and well prepared steaks. It may look like a formal country club, but the atmosphere and staff couldn't be more welcoming and warm.
Long Island Restaurant News Plate Rating System:
Laura Donnelly is the pastry chef for The Living Room Restaurant in East Hampton and the Food Editor of the East Hampton Star. She has developed recipes for Equal sweetener, Sheila Lukins's cookbooks, and has appeared numerous times on The Barefoot Contessa TV show. She has written for Town and Country, Hamptons, and Texas Monthly magazines. She does not have time for a website or Twitter.