On a corner in Greenport something is happening. Chef Taylor Knapp, who worked under Rene Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen, is starring in his own restaurant. His love of foraging and cooking is evident in an eclectic, comfort food menu at First and South in Greenport.
Crispy, house made crackers with tarragon, parsley and chives with a creamy goat cheese spread arrived as soon as we sat down. Our waiter helped us pick wines by the glass, a Lieb Rosé and a Lieb Pinot Blanc, both crisp and perfect for summer drinking. First and South will rotate wines and is currently serving a 201 barrel fermented chardonnay from Paumanok.
I started with tomato gazpacho with cucumber and one perfect oyster floating on top and a beautiful edible violet. The soup, the color of watermelon was just-right spicy. We shared a dish of calamari, perfectly crispy with preserved lemon and green onion on a bed of amazing smoked yogurt.
Knapp is a chef who experiments, tries ideas out on his staff. Our waiter told us about a Romaine lettuce purée with butter and lemon juice that he created and served over monkfish that was exceptional.
My husband had a pickle plate to start and we shared just off-the-boat fluke crudo with chili oil and sorrel. Knapp says, “The sheep sorrel on the fluke crudo dish was foraged, as were several of the herbs in the duck tongue dish (rosette cress, chickweed and wild carrot).” Some organic greens he gets from KK Haspel’s The Farm in Southold.
The second time I had had the grits and mushrooms, it was with shitakes from Long Island Mushroom Company in Cutchogue. The first time it was with chanterelles and equally as delicious.
A test of any restaurant is its hamburger and my husband said his was the best he’s had this year. It came with big meaty fries served in a kids beach pail and homemade ketchup and sriracha mayo. Roasted red, green and yellow tomatoes surrounded my perfectly cooked striped bass with fresh dill and faro and barley to one side. Knapp says, “The fish will change depending on what is in season, as will the vegetables.”
Every plate looked as beautiful as it tasted. The care in preparation is evident in all dishes, and Taylor Knapp’s personality is experienced in every bite. Next time I’ll try the pappardelle with mushrooms or the chicken dinner special. You could make a meal of the starters and share half portions as I saw many patrons doing.
There is a lively bar scene with specialty drinks like huckleberry lemonade with vodka and a Margarita with organic tequila, lime juice and agave as well as Greenport Harbor draft beer and a selection of local wines.
Dessert was a warm s’mores brownie with marshmallow that Knapp makes with sea salt, creating my favorite combination of salt and sweet. Husband had a root beer float. Sublime.
The hostess welcomed us warmly and helped with our menu selections. The music is a nice mix from contemporary to the 60’s “Little Darling.” Owned by Sarah Phillips, formerly a manager of Luce and Hawkins and Peter Pace, First and South has the makings of a big success. The food sparks fly. Well done, Taylor Knapp.
First and South
100 South Street
Greenport NY 11944