The folks at the legendary Braun Seafood Co. in Cutchogue have brought in a ringer.
Braun’s, one of Long Island’s largest seafood importers and distributors, has partnered with the former culinary director of Rooted Hospitality Group, Terri Novak, for a brand-new concept.
Braun’s Kitchen opened quietly last fall and just exploded with its first full summer under its belt.
Rooted Hospitality owns and operates Cowfish and Rumba in Hampton Bays, Flora in Westhampton Beach, and other restaurants on Long Island and the East Coast.
Novak oversaw kitchen operations for the company, before the stars aligned and she teamed with Braun’s to catch lighting in a bottle. The idea is to offer top-notch casual dining and takeout from Braun’s Kitchen, nestled right off Main Road in the rural hamlet.
Novak described the arrangement as a “dream” for a chef. With Braun’s Kitchen attached to the massive wholesale operation, consider the bounty of fresh seafood to which Novak has access, at all times.
“It’s a dream to have everything at your fingertips when you’re creative,” she explained, “because with every spontaneous idea you get, you can just go with the flow while it’s fresh in your mind.”
What has resulted are menus, rotating with the seasons, that rival any top Long Island restaurant. Here are just three examples:
Miso Butter Cod: baby bok choy, mushrooms, seasoned jasmine rice (28)
Shrimp & Polenta: peppadew butter, sautéed Swiss chard, creamy polenta (27)
Po’ Boy: fried oysters & shrimp, lettuce, tomato, rémoulade, bacon, French bread (19)
How it happened
Working as a chef day and night, and all over the island, didn’t exactly suit Novak’s needs anymore.
So she departed from her prior employer in August to spend more time with her family, specifically her son Theo, 6, who needed more of her attention with school, sports and extracurriculars.
“I had to accommodate my personal life,” she said.
In the meantime, Braun’s had been crafting plans to re-launch a restaurant space that had sat vacant for nearly two years.
But they couldn’t do it right without the right person.
Their first draft choice was Novak.
The Homan family, which owns Braun Seafood Co., knew Novak personally. As a culinary director, she was in touch with Braun’s almost daily for seafood orders and other needs, including educational.
In turn, Novak had great respect and admiration for the company.
“I met Cody [Homan] and his dad, Ken (the company’s president) and checked it out,” she said.
It didn’t take much thinking to realize the space’s potential.
It was a yes.
The Homan family was thrilled.
“They and everyone else totally adopted me into the Braun family, which has been absolutely amazing,” Novak said. “And the freedom they give me! I love bouncing ideas off them, from menu to decor, but they always say, ‘Terri, you know better.’”
Hence, why they brought her in.
“We were thrilled when Terri said yes to joining our team here for many reasons,” said Cody Homan, Braun’s development and sales director. “Obviously, she has extensive experience in opening new restaurants and concepts, developing off-site catering and managing large teams.
“But most importantly, she’s a great, down-to-earth person to both work alongside and spend time with, which is crucial in this high-stress industry when the season is in full swing.”
The spot for summer and fall
The property has a tent outside, picnic tables galore, lawn games and even a takeout window. All the wine and beer that’s poured comes from the North Fork. The catering offerings are also being expanded.
“We really want to kick off the warmer seasons and show the North Fork what we have to offer, what we’re capable of,” she said, “our consistency, our elevated menu, our hospitality.”
Added Cody: “We are so excited to see where she, Jeremy [the kitchen manager] and the rest of the team take Braun’s Kitchen.”
If you go
Look for the Braun’s Seafood sign, as the operation is set back a bit from Main Road. The address is 30840 Main Road, Cutchogue, NY, 11935. If you’re coming from the west and hit Peconic Bay Vineyards, you’ve gone too far. The hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday. Click here to order online. Visit the Braun’s Kitchen website for all updated hours and menus.
photos by Satin Widrow