As a livestock resurgence sweeps the East End, and villages from Riverhead to Sag Harbor adjust zoning to allow for backyard flocks, we were excited to see Chef Roy Wohlars of South Edison getting in on the game. Back on June 27, an update on the Montauk restaurant’s Facebook page announced “Chef Roy’s Red Star chickens have arrived! Get ready for some farm fresh eggs from our very own chickens,” followed by a perhaps tongue-and-cheek list of proposed names (Rarby, Thea) for the flock of 40.
The Red Star chickens (a cross between Rhode Island Reds and Delawares) enjoy their own coop at Amber Waves Farms in Amagansett (or AWF as the restaurant’s menu notes in a nifty acronym key for its produce suppliers), where they help recycle the restaurant’s veggie waste and make for great photo props. But they are mostly for the eggs–used in assorted dishes like the Panzanella Salad with housemade bread, asparagus, shallot, basil, AWF poached egg, and Amagansett sea salt. This homesteader spin raises the restaurant’s already-impressive, made-from-scratch approach to another level, even if some South Edison fans–we are among them–might take the farm-fresh eggs for granted, distracted by the restaurants martini pickle menu and extensive craft beer list.
There are no plans to use the 40 birds for meat. Still, the fried chicken from Chef Wohlars–who has been running the kitchen this season as founding Chef Todd Mitgang focuses on opening Crave Fishbar in the city–is significant. First, because it helps reinforce the often apt comparisons between Brooklyn and Montauk: Brooklyn Based reports chefs at the other end of the Island pushing fried chicken to “a new, crazier level,” with fried chicken tacos, fried chicken pizza, fried chicken and waffles on a stick, fried chicken cupcakes, and fried chicken pie. And, second, more than one Edible colleague has described South Edison’s fried chicken as the best they have ever eaten. It comes with a nickel-thick batter encasing the moist meat and sits on top of a savory waffle: think scallion pancake that has been beatified in a waffle iron. Take that, Brooklyn!
Note: South Edison has extended its season nearly a month this year, until Columbus Day.