In Huntington, a Waterfront Palace with a Tasting Menu to Match

Chef Francis Derby Huntington Prime

Chef Francis Derby joined the team at Prime earlier this year—and now he’s taking the restaurant’s cuisine to new heights.

Back in 2006, when Prime first opened its doors beside beautiful Huntington Harbor, the New York Times declared the restaurant “a waterfront palace with a menu to match.” Everything and nothing has changed since then. Still a waterfront palace, Prime underwent extensive renovations in 2018 and stands today, just months from 2020, more stunning than ever. And while the restaurant-turned-dining-destination still offers a menu fit for royalty, the Prime family is about to launch something even grander: their first-ever chef’s tasting menu. 

The timing couldn’t be better. Seven months ago, the Bohlsen Restaurant Group—the powerhouse brand behind local dining institutions such as Tellers, Verace, H2O, Monsoon and, of course, Prime—welcomed Francis Derby to the team as Prime’s new executive chef. For Derby, the move was a happy homecoming; because while, at the start of his career, his talents carried him away from Long Island—and into the kitchens of highly acclaimed restaurants such as Cannibal, wd~50 and Momofuku Ssäm Bar—Derby is a proud Bellport native, with deep roots in the community, and deep ties to local farmers, to match.

“I started a week before the busy season kicked off, so it was a quick adjustment,” says Derby. “This place is just rocking during the summer. Now, though, we get to enjoy the other side of that, and put together the really fun stuff for the winter.”

Prime tasting menu

Derby’s tasting menu will include, of course, carnivore-friendly offerings.

Among Derby’s really fun plans for the winter are two obvious highlights: a special farm dinner with Bellport’s own Early Girl Farms, slated to take place in December, and Prime’s new chef’s tasting menu, a dining experience available now through April, that spans five courses and costs only $95 (though cost may fluctuate, depending on what’s being served).

“We wanted to offer something that showcased a few things: who we are as a team, who I am as a chef, and where we’re heading as a restaurant,” says Derby. “That’s really where this tasting menu comes from. I just want to showcase what Prime has. Because, yes, we’re a go-to spot for steak; there’s no doubt about that. We have all your staples and they’re excellent. We’ve got the porterhouse, the Caesar salad, the creamed spinach—everything you want, really, from a steakhouse. But we’re so much more than that—we have so much more than that—and this menu is a chance for us to really showcase that.”

Derby enjoys close relationships with local farmers, especially those at Bellport’s Early Girl Farms, and those relationships will be increasingly on display at the restaurant, as its chef’s tasting menu will showcase beautiful, local produce.

Prime’s tasting menu will take flight with an amuse-bouche and then soar through all of the restaurant’s strengths from there. Guests can expect tastes from Prime’s sushi team and raw bar, pasta and vegetable courses, a seafood course, a meat course and dessert. The sensibility will be classic Prime—exquisite food, impeccably prepared—with increasingly hyper-local ingredients. A wine pairing, consisting of all sommelier selections, will also be available for just a $45 supplement.

“We are offering our chef’s tasting menu at both locations of Prime, in Huntington and Stamford,” says Michael Bohlsen, who owns and operates Bohlsen Restaurant Group with his brother, Kurt. “We have such talented chefs, such a great clientele and such beautiful venues. As always, we want to make the most of our amazing potential. I say this all the time, but it’s especially true here: You get in this business and you have visions of what you want to do, but for me, the best thing I can do is work with people who are much better than I am, give them the tools they need and then get out of the way while encouraging them to express themselves.”

Prime Huntington

Each tasting will close on a sweet note, thanks to Prime’s excellent pastry chef.

“That’s why we’re being so hands-off with this tasting menu,” agrees Kurt Bohlsen. “Both Francis and Julio [Genao, executive chef at Prime in Stamford] are phenomenal. So we’re letting them determine the parameters, flex their creative muscles and really allow these menus to showcase their principles and culinary ethos. Dining is as much entertainment these days as it is anything else, so we also really wanted to offer our guests something exciting and fun.”

What could be more exciting than an unwritten menu that changes weekly, daily or hourly, determined purely by seasonality, fresh deliveries of beautiful, local produce, or a talented chef’s whims? Guests who try Prime’s tasting menu will learn the answer for themselves: When it comes to dining, nothing.