By Kathryn G. Menu
The English gastropub — by definition, a tavern, bar or pub that offers its patrons high quality dishes in an elevated form of pub cuisine — has grown in popularity this side of the Atlantic with the introduction of restaurants like April Bromfield’s The Spotted Pig and Jimmy’s No. 43 in Manhattan.
Sag Harbor Village now has one of its own with the opening of The Cuddy, a gastropub in the former Phao restaurant space next to Sen Japanese Restaurant on Main Street.
The Cuddy – conceived by partners Jeff Resnick, Tora Matsuoka and Jesse Matsuoka – will be open year-round and while the restaurant opened last week just for dinner service, it will expand into lunch service Mother’s Day weekend and breakfast service Memorial Day weekend.
The interior of the space has been completely redesigned by Resnick, clad in different antique woods and bark, as well as textured, white brick and light fixtures straight out of a historic barn. Warm and light, with details like a buoy nodding to Sag Harbor’s history as a waterfront community, Jesse Matsuoka said this week the decision to brighten the restaurant space was to make it more welcoming – the kind of place people are drawn to for more than one meal a day.
Executive chef Gilberto Chico, sous chef Derek Barker and beverage director Derek Nielsen have created a menu around the gastropub theme focused on elevated cuisine with an inherent comfort to it. Handcrafted items, whether it is the house cured bacon that accompanies the hand ground Cuddy Burger, homemade mushroom Tagliatelle pasta topped with decadent parmesan cream and white truffle oil, or a house made tomato jam that brings together pan seared sea scallops over grits with yellow curry, frisée and cured bacon, are highlighted throughout the menu.
Starters include classics like steamed mussels with fennel, white wine and grilled bread, but also dishes like bacon wrapped quail, served with black eyed peas, kale and a honey shallot vinaigrette.
The team is still finalizing its breakfast and lunch menus, said Matsuoka, including items like chicken confit and waffles – a dish that will likely be available all day at The Cuddy.
The attention to detail is also evident behind the bar of The Cuddy, where Nielson has developed a list of hand crafted cocktails with old-fashioned flair. The Gentleman’s Favor is made with Michter’s rye, Carpano Antica, old-fashioned bitters, homemade cherries and black tea syrup.
The cherries and black tea syrup, like most everything at The Cuddy, has been made in-house, the florescent maraschino cherries of childhood replaced with deep red, juicy cherries, dripping with flavors like nutmeg and cardamom.
“We don’t want to be known as farm to table, but we support local farmers where we can, where it makes sense and where we are going to be able to keep a price point that makes us accessible,” said Matsuoka.
Last weekend, Chico featured fresh sorrel from the Fair Foods Market, with beers, Mecox Bay Dairy cheddar cheese and house cured bacon with a sherry vinaigrette.
Matsuoka plans to unveil a “Meet the Farmer of The Cuddy” campaign, introducing the community to some of the local farms helping to supply the restaurant — and the community – with its food.
It also plans to continue a tradition at the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market of having food demonstrations showcasing the way Sen chefs carefully craft their sashimi with local seafood, The Cuddy recipes featured with a focus on local vegetables.
“We are trying to make comfort food that is refined and elevated, but we are also trying to connect to our community, and showcase our community, with what we are doing here,” said Matsuoka. “We want this to be a place the community gathers, year-round.”
The Cuddy is located at 29 Main Street, Sag Harbor. For more information, call 725-0101.