This month we’re presenting the The Dish. It’s our new feature where we serve up a fresh dish from a local restaurant that you need to try. We invite you to explore Central PA’s restaurants with us – one dish at a time.
Sometimes the last thing the management at a new restaurant wants to see is a food writer waltzing through the front door looking to grill the chef on his menu.
This was not the case with York’s newest dining experience, The First Post, which opened in August at 3691 East Market Street. I was met with open arms.
Scanning the menu online, I couldn’t quite label The First Post’s signature dish. Described as “traditional-style food with an innovative twist,” the menu offers a melting pot of new American cuisine.
I decided to ask Chef Dennis Karabas his opinion on the best dish in the house. He immediately suggested the grilled octopus – a family recipe he enjoys during his annual summer trips to Greece.
The First Post occupies two floors of three conjoined buildings steeped in rich wood accents and featuring a circa-1839 bar resourced from Pittsburgh. I soaked in the atmosphere from my seat at a corner table and waited for my meal to arrive.
The dish featured a single, pink-to-maroon-skinned octopus tentacle curved in slices around the plate and drizzled with capers, pine nuts, halved red grapes, and vinaigrette, resting upon a Santorini-style fava puree.
Santorini – the Aegean island located 120 miles from Greece’s mainland – is celebrated for its produce, which flourishes due to the island’s unique, volcanic-caldera-formed ecosystem. Locals separate from the Greek tradition by substituting the yellow split peas found in customary fava with Lathyrus clymenum, a wild legume indigenous only to Santorini and a few surrounding islands.
Marinated for at least two days in Greek spices, salt, pepper, and olive oil (and charred to order), the octopus at The First Post is amazingly tender. The grapes add an unexpected sweetness, which at first seems frivolous; yet, a bite without the fruit misses the sugary harmony created between the grape and the fava. The dish embodies rustic simplicity, but carries a highly complex melding of individual flavors in each forkful. Karabas’ grilled octopus is fresh and exotic.
“It’s something different you don’t see here in York,” says Karabas. “The dish is sweet, salty, nutty, a little bit of everything.”
He suggested pairing the octopus with a white wine or a subtle Belgian white ale. I chose the Laguna Chardonnay, from California’s Russian River Valley. The sweet and salty combination of the dish makes the crisp acidity of the wine pop. It was a great choice.
The grilled octopus should be your first choice when visiting The First Post.