The Preston House in Riverhead is one of the best new restaurants on Long Island. Chef Kyle Koenig, who shows true dedication to his craft, brings his expertise from some of the most high-profile kitchens in the country. I’ve known Koenig since 2012, when he worked with my husband Joe, opening Topping Rose House for Tom Colicchio in Bridgehampton. Koenig later went on to become the chef de cuisine at Craft, Colicchio’s flagship in Manhattan. So, it was a real treat for us to stop by last Sunday and catch up, while sampling dishes in The Preston House’s beautiful industrial chic dining room.
Koenig is no doubt an extremely talented chef with a fine dining pedigree, and his wife, sommelier Jessica Koenig, brings her vast expertise as the restaurant’s beverage director.
It’s the attention to detail and quality that really sets The Preston House’s menu apart.
“The inspiration for the menu comes from my entire career,” said Koenig. “I’ve been fortunate to have a long list of places where I have worked and I made sure I was ready to take on an executive chef role when the opportunity came.”
Koenig appears more than ready to serve as executive chef. He’s cut his teeth in famed kitchens like Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. “I got to learn the French basics from the best-known chef in America,” he stated. He also worked at The Plaza, where he obtained real high-volume experience. But it was Craft where his talent was honed.
“When I worked at Craft, I feel I got my best experience with a great chef who has one of the largest skillsets I’ve ever seen. I’d say the eight years working for Tom Colicchio really formed me into a chef.” He also credits Southern influences in his dishes from his upbringing in Texas and New Orleans, and Thai influences from travel.
One area where the menu really excels is the raw fish preparations. We started with the fluke crudo, prepared with toasted coriander, finger limes, and radishes, which was exceptional.
The pasta, not to be outshined, was really something special, each dish delicately hand-made. Pasta this good cannot be skipped. We sampled the butternut squash agnolotti with a mouth-watering combo of brown butter, sage, and Parmesan and the equally magnificent pappardelle with black truffle and Parmesan. The simple flavors were well balanced and perfectly executed.
The East End influence is evident in the menu. “The gnocchi is a good example of East End Influence. It’s my spin on a classic clam chowder because it incorporates all of the same ingredients without being a soup,” said Koenig. “I love the classics and want to give guests the experience and flavors they want while putting my own stamp on it. I like to stay rooted in classic flavors and techniques, but still let my creativity run wild.”
He’s also working on an in-house aged meat program, while bringing in whole animals and utilizing different cuts for various dishes. You’ll find local honey used in dishes, procured right from the hives on premises. The bread, which is spectacular, is also made in-house.
“These are some of the foods I enjoy most. So, I have a connection to them,” he said, while discussing the menu. “However, the duck dish will always shine. I love to both eat and prepare duck for sure.”
For my entree, I took that advice and had the Long Island Duck Breast, and shine it did. The crispy skin and tender meat, and the concentrated complementing flavors of the duck with cara-cara orange, and local honey qastrique was, dare I say, mind-blowing. A Raphael Cabernet Franc, recommended by Jessica, paired very nicely with the dish as well.
In between courses Koenig took us on a tour of the restaurant and the kitchen and showed us everything from the food products to the equipment — from the pasta maker to the smoker out back. He displayed for us the whole tile fish he had picked up earlier that day on his way to work, that would later make its way to Joe’s plate.
“I only seek out the best,” he said of his ingredients. “The Wagyu beef is from Texas, the fish is sourced locally, and I use seasonal vegetables. Seasonality is the most important thing to me.” He utilizes the North Fork’s local purveyors for many of these fresh ingredients.
The restaurant is also planning a series of monthly wine dinners.
“I love the wine scene of the North Fork. It reminds me fondly of my time in Napa Valley. We want to feature as many of the local wines as we can. The next two are on March 19 with McCall, and April 16 with Wölffer. Jessica, my wife, is the beverage director here, and she’s just expanded our wine list, so we want to highlight some other regions as well through these dinners,” said Koenig. The property’s wine cellar and lounge house more than 800 bottles of wine from around the world.
What’s even more amazing is that this menu isn’t going to break the bank. It’s hard to find this kind of quality, and especially when there’s a $35 weekday prix fixe and happy hour offered from 4 to 6 PM on Mondays, and Wednesday through Friday. For the summer, there are also Sunday pig roasts planned.
“Mostly, I wanted to put together a menu that has a little something for everyone, where people can enjoy great food without breaking the bank,” said Koenig.
For more information visit www.theprestonhouseandhotel.com.