TRIPS ABROAD The Sea Goose
Aulay Carlson should do an infomercial.
Head Chef at The Sea Goose restaurant in Westerly, Aulay is telegenic. Forget that he’s a handsome 40-something with a Brad Pitt-style goatee; when he talks about The Sea Goose restaurant, he’s captivating.
His demeanor rises quickly from affable to excited as he discusses The Sea Goose. “We just opened at the end of May and the staff is new, but things are running smoothly. The staff is terrific and we’re getting excellent feedback about the menu. We make sure everything has been prepared with fresh products. Fresh fish, fresh vegetables.”
“We” is Carlson’s pronoun of choice. He is the Head Chef, but you won’t find that title on his business card — just the restaurant name, his name and his email address. He makes a point of stressing the importance of teamwork. “I’m lucky to have a great crew, especially my sous-chef, Anthony Goss. He’s crucial in what can be a tough business. When you’re hustling to create a variety of specials, teamwork is vital. Just look at today’s menu.”
Aulay (a Scottish name, in case you’ve been wondering) points to four fish dishes including scallops that “just came out of the water yesterday,” along with an assortment of oysters from neighboring Charlestown and three salads (you’d be hard-pressed to pass up the Blackened Salmon Citrus Salad).
Carlson explained that even during construction of The Sea Goose — which replaced W.B. Cody’s in Dunn’s Corners-- he was “contacting local food purveyors who would provide us with fresh products. We can always count on Hillandale Farms for fresh produce that’s organic and chemical-free. Max and Uli Hence will give me the most delicious tomatoes right from the garden. You bite into one of their Brandywine beauties and it just shouts ‘Summertime. ’ ”
Telling a fresh fish story, Aulay recounts a three-way phone conversation. “I called one of my favorite local fishermen. He calls a boat captain who tells us he’s on the way in with some great swordfish. The sword came in that night and we had it on The Sea Goose menu next day. I’d call that ‘right from the ocean straight to the table.’ ”
Aulay’s wife, Liz, is General Manager of The Sea Goose. This isn’t the first time they’ve worked together. The first time was on Block Island. “ I worked on the Island for many summers, then was working there year-round when I met Liz who grew up on Block Island. We worked together at The Albion and Peckhams. We were married on the Island and after a couple of years we switched to the West Coast when I decided to attend Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland, Oregon.”
I asked Liz an obvious question: “What’s it like working with your husband?” She didn’t skip a beat. “It’s great to be working with him again. We opened and managed the A&E [yup, Auly and Elizabeth] restaurant on Block Island for four years. Best sandwich on the island was Auly’s “Gobbler” with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Then Auly decided to take a year-round job at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse at Mohegan Sun. We’re glad to be a team again.”
Andrew Nathan and Jen Gibson, owners of The Cooked Goose, a popular restaurant in Westerly, have transformed W.B. Cody’s into a bright, spacious, inviting interior. Jen and Liz have been friends “longer than we’ve known our husbands,” says Liz. Like Aulay and Liz, Andrew and Jen have a long-standing affinity with Block Island. “Jen comes from Block Island and we were friends with Aulay and Liz,” says Andrew. “It was friendship long before it was business, but we’re glad it’s worked out this way.”
According to the customers, it’s worked out very well. And , if you didn’t already know: yes, there is a goose called a sea goose.
The Sea Goose Grill and Raw Bar is at 265 Post Road in Westerly (at Dunn’s Corners near Benny’s and WalMart). It is open everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. For reservations, telephone (401) 315 0788 or go to opentable.com.