If we just walk around the corner from our house and through the woods a few hundred yards, we arrive at Lambert’s Cove Inn. We’ve always had an attachment for the place, and I think most everyone in Longview, where we live, pretty much feels the same way. We may not go there all the time, but it feels like our place.
In fact, last year at our annual Longview block party, the inn was a hot topic of discussion; I believe it’s technically part of the Longview Road Association. And it was up for sale.
“Why don’t we buy it?” one of my neighbors said. “The Road Association could buy it. We’d have a place where people could stay when they came to visit, it has a pool and a tennis court; it could be like a club.” Disregarding the fact that that was an absolutely ludicrous idea, with each passing drink it seemed to take on purchase.
Fortunately, last year the Inn was sold to the Cain family, and we’re all much better off for it. John and his wife Keya and John’s sister Kristina have given the place a facelift, and pumped new life into it.
My wife and I went there for dinner a few weeks ago. The place looked great, much more light and airy, more minimalistic than before, Chef Joe DaSilva was at the top of his game, and we had a wonderful time.
So when we heard that Chef Gavin Smith was going to be there for a pop-up dinner last week, we were all over it. Kristina Cain, co-owner of the Inn, said they were interested in doing a pop-up for a couple of reasons. First it would give Chef DaSilva and his crew a much-needed night off. Plus it would be a way to reach out to some new customers or customers who hadn’t been there for a while, and let them see the changes the Cains had made to the Inn.
Ms. Cain reached out to Gavin Smith, whose business, Food Minded Fellow, was doing private engagements on the Island as well as pop-ups at the Beach Plum Inn in Menemsha and for Farm.Field.Sea. Smith eagerly accepted, and will be doing pop-ups dinners at the Inn roughly every other week; on July 6 he will be having a barbeque.
Last week’s dinner started with a glass of sparkling wine served to all the guests as they were free to walk about the grounds. All wines for the Inn are chosen by Francois Gautier, who spent 25 years in the wine industry in France and had his own shop in Paris. The group of 20 to 30 guests were then invited into the dining room, where Smith and Gautier described each course and the appropriate wine pairing.
The first course was a beet appetizer. “I used every part of the beet, and prepared it sous-vide,” explained Smith, referring to a slow-cooking French technique literally meaning “under vacuum.” The beets were procured from Morning Glory Farm, and all the parts, including the leftover beet root, stem, and skin are juiced, and combined with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make a mousse salad dressing.
The second course was a classic brioche served warm from the oven, but with a surprising twist, a tomato marmalade. When the marmalade hits the mouth one is expecting something sweet like jelly, but then after a second, voilà — tomato. A lovely surprise.
The main course was a seared local sea bass fillet. The fish was served with a rhubarb beurre blanc, giving it a taste that was both tart and rich. And a charred onion relish gave the dish a subtle bite.
The pièce de résistance was dessert, a delightful confection called Milk & Honey. Smith explained the first time he had whipped honey: “I had my mind blown!” He went to the chef hoping to get the recipe, but with no success. What ensued was six months of research and trial and error, culminating with Smith “staging” or working as an apprentice for the chef of Better Half restaurant in Atlanta. There he learned the final touches that to that point had eluded him.
For our dinner last week, the whipped honey was served with strawberry ice cream, miso dulce de leche, bee pollen, and wildflower. Smith said, “It’s the life cycle of honey … flowers, bee pollen, and then honey.”
Chef Gavin Smith’s pop-up will be featured throughout the summer at the Lambert’s Cove Inn; call 800-535-0272 for more information. The pop-up dinner at Lambert’s Cove Inn was $85, $125 for dinner and wine pairing.