Sea Urchin ($14)
"I get this sea urchin from an oyster farmer up in Marin County," says the chef. "It's got that West Coast flavor, but it's a little less sweet and more briny than most. It's so intense I need a little something to tone it down." That's watermelon and cucumber, with a fennel bavarois underneath. "They're flavors that aren't so intense as to get in the way."
Sea Scallop ($14)
Stafford-Hill gets Massachusetts diver scallops whole, slices them thinly, and dresses lightly with olive oil, salt, and esplette pepper. A shellfish consomme lines the shell ("I wanted to get some kind of ocean liquid back in there") before the scallops are layered inside, with fennel oil and a tomato granita to garnish.
Spanish Mackerel ($13)
"I'm using familiar Mexican flavors here," the chef says—"lime and orange, avocado, radish, jalapeño. I could get wackier, but don't really need to. These flavors work for a reason."
Bluefin tuna ($16)
"I wanted tuna, but everyone does it—it's like, raw tuna on a plate again?" Stafford-Hill poaches the bluefin belly in olive oil with basil and lemon, and then presses it such that it's almost custardlike in texture. A thin slice of melon tops it off, with bottarga to garnish, and a summer gazpacho is poured over the top. "The tomatoes, zucchini—everything that's amazing right now."
"I wanted to show off the versatility of lobster here, everything lobsters can do. So I did it two ways: a custard layered on the bottom, with a corn soup over it, and then chunks of butter-poached lobster meat." Given its richness and the sharp sweetness of the summer corn, the chef says, "we actually pair it with a dessert wine."
"Langoustines are amazing but you don't see them enough. Per Se serves them, maybe, but they're not exactly accessible." Here, they meet roasted sweetbreads and a sweet onion purée, with zucchini balls and microgreens to garnish and a langoustine jus poured over the top. "I like having these richer dishes, fish and meat, when it's a full dinner."
Absinthe Panna Cotta ($8)
"So many absinthes work well with cream, so this dessert is just a logical extension of that." A simple panna cotta with cream, absinthe, sugar, and a bit of gelatin to hold it together. Topped with red and white wild strawberries "which have a crazy aromatic sweetness."