Editor's note: You may already be familiar with Brian Halweil, of Edible Communities, from previous posts on Serious Eats. But this entry marks his debut on SE:NY. Brian is the publisher of Edible East End, Edible Brooklyn, and the soon-to-debut Edible Manhattan. He'll be joining us from time to time as part of a Serious Eats partnership with Edible Communities. —Zach
With the commercial striped bass fishing season now open, Bay Burger in Sag Harbor has introduced perhaps the most interesting item on its menu—the striped bass burger. Complementing its standard offerings of burgers ground on site, parmesan-bread grilled cheese, homemade ice cream, and not so standard local wines and beer, the fish burger is particularly fitting for a burger joint in an old whaling village. (The original burger house at this site in the 1970s was actually called Whalerburger.)
In fact, owner Joe Tremblay, a former grill man at Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien Hotel and manager of ‘wichcraft, both in Manhattan, has taken a particular interest in water-related issues in Sag Harbor, and would eventually like to devote some share of the restaurant’s profits to reducing chemical use on lawns, restoring wetlands and generally preserving the village’s working waterfront. Frankly, it’s surprising that more East End restaurants don’t serve bass burgers, considering what a stupendous recovery Morone saxatilis has made in recent years.
Adapted from the burger that Eric Ripert, another Sag Harbor resident, serves at 10 Arts in Philadelpia, Tremblay starts with striped bass filets. “It has some cut up chunks and some of the meat we grind with a wide die. We mix that with sautéed shallots, mustard, mayo and egg. We bread it with panko, and fry it.” The burger is served with local baby spinach and their housemade tartar sauce.
A recent sampling by several tasters generated surprise and smiles. Someone suggested it had the texture of a perfect crab cake. Another taster who doesn’t typically favor fish cakes was pleasantly impressed. The burger also endured the 5 mile drive to Sagg Main Beach and went well with a beach blanket and umbrella. Bay Burger sold 40 of them on July 4th weekend, which Tremblay said is very good for specials. Encouraged by the popularity, the restaurant hopes to introduce a lobster roll in August, but will keep serving bass burgers as long as local baymen are catching.
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