There’s something about crisp, fall nights on the East End that leave people craving a little comfort food.
Luckily for the hungry among us, Chef Cheryl Scarberry understands exactly where we’re coming from. As the executive chef at Red Maple, the modern-American restaurant and bar located at The Chequit on Shelter Island, she has tuned into those fall feelings and created an autumn dinner menu full of locally-sourced rustic plates.
“We really wanted to focus on comfort food and fall produce, like chard, squash and root vegetables,” explains Chef Gayle. “We’ve added heartier dishes and returned with the Snug Menu, which has mac and cheese, smoky shrimp and cheddar blue grits.”
Other offerings include butternut squash soup served with a fontina and caramelized onion sandwich, and onion soup with melted gruyere on a baguette
“We wanted to make food that would be great for when the weather is chilly,” she adds. “Grilled cheese and soup or the mussels are great dishes to warm you up!”
Some of the Red Maple menu items are old favorites, while others are new additions — but all feature local ingredients and are designed for mixing and matching, with diners able to choose from large and small plates to create their own ideal meal.
“We are lucky to have some great farm stands on the Island, like Zombie Free Farm, Kilb’s, Sylvester Manor and Sep’s,” Gayle said. “I’m really looking forward to spring and going to the North and South Fork farms to source, as well.”
Comfort food means different things to different folks and not everyone can indulge in the creamy, meaty dishes many of us tend to favor in cooler weather. So for the vegetarians among us, Chef Gayle recommends the house-made veggie burger with tomato jam and grilled portobella with quinoa.
“The butternut, Swiss chard and black bean hash is prepared without any animal by-products and is just as delicious without the roasted chicken,” she says. “All of our mains and two of our salads, the arugula-golden beet and roasted root vegetable salads, are gluten free.”
When asked to name her personal favorite dish on the fall menu, Gayle responds, “I’m torn because I like so many dishes for different reasons. Honestly, it comes down to the mac and cheese, the pork tenderloin stuffed with chorizo or the mussels.”
Of course, no fall comfort food is complete without a spirited beverage to accompany it, and Gayle is happy to give her Red Maple bar recommendations on that score as well.
“I’m a bourbon kind of girl, so the Twisted Manhattan with the beef brisket,” she says. “Wine? The Sabine, which is a rosé we have on tap. It pairs great with the market fish.”
That’s a combination that certainly registers high on our comfort meter.
Incidentally, the fall menu also offers more value in pricing this year — Red Maple hopes it will be attractive to locals and help keep the bar and restaurant buzzing throughout the off season.
Red Maple is open for dinner service Thursday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and for brunch on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. A new Sunday brunch menu will debut on October 23 and will be offered along with live music. For more information or reservations, please visit www.thechequit.com/red-maple or call (631) 749-0183.