The New York Times, October 19, 2012

Ingredients Don’t Come More Local Than These

EDWARD TAYLOR, of Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish, joins an increasing number of Westchester restaurateurs in stating the provenance of his ingredients on his menu. But Mr. Taylor and the executive chef, Michael Kaphan, who are co-owners, give local a new meaning. Many of the vegetables they serve were grown on the five acres behind the restaurant, in North Salem. And Mr. Taylor’s wholesale fish business supplies the kitchen with seafood that comes mostly from nearby East Coast waters.

It takes vigilance to prevent delicate fish from becoming overcooked and skill to deal with the rapidly changing sources of seasonal produce. Evidently, Mr. Kaphan has both.

A raw bar near the restaurant’s entrance keeps shellfish well chilled. Dewy oysters, top-neck clams, shrimp, scallops and lobsters were lovely on their own. But they can also be assembled into an elaborate presentation on the ice beds of a tiered seafood tower, prepared for a minimum of two diners, but ample enough for three to share.

Lightly breaded calamari was fine standard fare, especially good as a nibble at the bar. But beware the wine-based broth that bathed Prince Edward Island mussels; it is sometimes laced with fiery chili.

Pass on the season’s pumpkin salad for one more inspired: a terrific seared scallop salad with matchsticks of bacon, sliced fingerlings and, at center, a soft sunny-side-up egg.


The bigeye tuna is festooned with lightly breaded wheels of Vidalia onions. Credit Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times
Lobster is employed generously in several dishes. A one-and-a-half-pound lobster crowns the lobster boil. A mountain of slightly undercooked fries could not obscure a wonderfully messy lobster roll packed with big chunks of the meat. And smaller nuggets added texture to a profoundly soothing lobster bisque, ours with corn kernels for good measure.

But pasta was disappointing. One evening, house made pasta was so dry that it crumbled at the touch of a fork. And the tomato, capers, garlic and overcooked chunks of swordfish tossed with it failed to meld.

Other entrees, however, were unfailingly fresh and beautifully prepared, the dishes designed with garnishes that elevated the flavor of each fish. Lean yet succulent Icelandic cod was outstanding, well matched with a savory sauce gribiche. Rare and perfect bigeye tuna was festooned with lightly breaded wheels of Vidalia onions; and wild king salmon rested on a bed of barley and buttery garden greens. Thick, moist swordfish measured a remarkable two inches thick, the sweetness of the flesh underscored by slightly acidic caponata and a dash of saba, a grape juice reduction.

Portions of rich seafood are generous, making dessert unnecessary, and those we tried needed rethinking. A white-chocolate bread pudding was more like a dry muffin, and the peach and berry crisp was heavy. For a refreshing closing note, consider the ice cream or sorbets.

Now in its seventh month, this young restaurant, in its newly renovated colonial setting, is still finding its stride. Although some will miss the intimacy and quiet of the small rooms that once made up the interior of this landmarked homestead, it is nonetheless heartening to see the old place carefully, handsomely repurposed and not abandoned to decay. The noise level is annoyingly high, and tables are much too close together (the owners plan to offer more seating upstairs to relieve the congestion). And if not finger bowls, then moist towelettes would be appreciated. But these lapses and oversights are far surpassed by the high quality and expert preparation of the food.

Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish

100 Titicus Road (at Routes 116 and 22)
North Salem
(914) 617-8380


The bar at Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish. Credit Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

THE SPACE A newly renovated 18th-century homestead. Interior walls have been removed, leaving open, beamed dining areas around a central stone chimney with three hearths. The room can be noisy despite acoustic panels. Tables are close together. Wheelchair access.

THE CROWD Mostly casually attired adults. Prompt, solicitous service.

THE BAR Full bar and serviceable wine list.

THE BILL Lunch: burgers, lobster roll, fish and chips, and entrees, $15 to $28. Dinner: entrees, $19 to $30 ($36 for steak); burgers, lobster roll, fish and chips, $10 to $16. Brunch: main dishes, $10 to $22.

WHAT WE LIKED Tiered seafood tower and anything from the raw bar; seared scallop salad, lobster bisque, bigeye tuna, wild salmon, Icelandic cod, swordfish; ice creams and sorbets.

IF YOU GO Lunch, Monday to Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. Dinner, Monday to Thursday, 5:30 to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to midnight; Sunday 5:30 to 10 p.m. Brunch, Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. Bar menu, every day, 3 to 5:30 p.m. Reservations recommended.

RATINGS Don’t Miss, Worth It, O.K., Don’t Bother.

Written by M. H. Reed on October 19, 2012
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