In Each Part of the Hamptons a Tried and True Favorite
In a restaurant scene with as high a turnover as the Hamptons, longevity is testament to quality. On these shores, a restaurant needs to have it all in order to last: design, food, service, location. Here, we’ve compiled a list of places that have not only stood the test of time but even grow better with age.
IN SAG HARBOR
Since 2000, Beacon has held court by the Sag Harbor Cove Yacht Club, and its continued efforts to keep itself as fresh as the breezes cooling its dining room are a sure sign that it has no intention of giving up its reign as one of Sag Harbor’s most beloved eateries. From bouillabaisse generously filled with lobster tails to vegan Mediterranean-style kale bowl to a classic pork chop Milanese, the menu spans land, sea, global flavors and dietary restrictions in equal measure, and it’s reinvented every year to keep creativity in its grasp (see the pork belly pretzel buns with kohlrabi slaw or lobster rigatoni with aged cheddar).
The one thing Beacon doesn’t change? Its gorgeous setting: dark chocolate leather banquettes and wood floors under a white ceiling inside; an Edison bulb–lit porch with views to Shelter Island outside. And, if you have to wait for a table, don’t be discouraged; instead, join Beacon’s buzzing bar scene while you wait, which draws a crowd nightly with craft beers, specialty cocktails and a wide variety of wines by the glass. (8 West Water St., Sag Harbor)
IN EAST HAMPTON
Nestled in a cozy corner of East Hampton, 15-year-old Fresno embodies many nationalities of charm. The gardened terrace with romantic lighting and an outdoor fireplace recalls the Italian countryside, the woven rattan chairs and wood tables bring in the textures of a French bistro, and the cocktails and food epitomize contemporary American cuisine at its best. Head chef Gretchen Menser spotlights local fish throughout the menu, elevating the freshest catches in innovative ways: smoking fluke and serving it with pickled red onions on crostini, or roasting tilefish before dressing it in an array of Asian accoutrements – lemongrass dashi, Thai basil, bok choy, rice noodles and three different kinds of mushrooms.
Menser certainly sees beauty in the details, such as truffle-thyme jus with the roasted chicken and potatoes, a curry carrot sauce with kaffr lime and pea tendrils on the organic salmon, or black tobiko caviar adding a sea-salted crunch to the crab cake. The same attention is paid to the cocktails, with a barrel-aged ‘white’ Negroni made with the French Suze and Lillet liquer, but the best pairings come from the wine list, which has been awarded by Wine Spectator for a decade and counting. (8 Fresno Pl., East Hampton)
Sighs of relief were audible last year when news broke that Silver’s – which went on the market when its third-generation owner Garrett Wellins decided to retire – would be passed down to Wellins’ son Ryan instead of being sold. One of the most longstanding restaurants in the Hamptons, Silver’s luncheonette has occupied one location or another on Southampton’s Main Street since 1923, now occupying an picturesque old home built in 1905 that serves as the most fitting backdrop for upscale American bistro fare.
Choicest fishes and meats are used in lobster rolls, fish chowders, a much- loved hearty BLT and fragrant sirloin burgers grilled over charcoal. A no-phone policy maintains a sense of old fashioned decorum, but the changing array of local art hung on the walls is a welcome alternative to screen time anyway. A full bar, black and white tiled floors, brass chandeliers and white tablecloths make Silver’s a true step back in time, which, by the way, must be minded here: in true luncheonette form, Silver’s closes at 3:00 daily. (15 Main St., Southampton)
With locations now throughout Manhattan and two more in Washington D.C., Bobby Van’s Steakhouse is an East Coast institution for prime meats. However, it was in Bridgehampton during 1969’s summer of love that it first opened its doors, quickly escalating to fame among the literati of the time, such as James Jones and Truman Capote, who rumor has it finished In Cold Blood on the premises.
It isn’t hard to imagine New York’s creative elite gathering at the old wooden bar to sip one too many martinis and discuss the latest reviews, and it isn’t too diffcult to still slide into having a similarly long, sultry summer night at Bobby Van’s, luxuriating in great service and exquisite food. The restaurant group now has its own fleet of boats to ensure its shellfish and fish filets are the freshest and ages its UDSA prime meats – porterhouses, filets and rib steaks – for 28 days in a specially designed room to have complete control over flavor. (2393 Montauk Hwy., Bridgehampton)
Sophisticated ocean-to-table fare comes few places better than Starr Boggs, which has been serving Westhampton since 1986. Having moved through six different locations, it’s now set in a renovated white cottage, with vines climbing up the front and gardens in the back. The old home gets packed on summer nights, its intimate series of dining rooms – a club room, the screen porch – filling with regulars and new-timers alike. There are always inventive offerings based on what nature has to offer – baked East coast halibut with curry essence; Peconic Bay blowfish tails sautéed to a crisp, dolloped with spicy butter and served atop bacon – while favorites like the almond- crusted flounder with puréed potatoes, glazed banana and lemon beurre blanc have been staples here for years.
Early every morning, the namesake chef and owner still goes to the local fish markets to pick out the day’s most beautiful catches, a practice that keeps the menu unbeatably fresh, but also lends to Mr. Bogg’s intentions to start sleeping in and retiring after so many years dedicated to the business – which is to say, go soon while you still can. (6 Parlato Dr., Westhampton)
Take your pick: fish tacos and dark and stormies while basking in the sunshine at a picnic table; braised Hawaiian-style baby back ribs with Long Island wine while lounging on a leather banquette; P.E.I. mussels and homemade hummus platters with craft beer or cocktails at the bar. Low- key and high-quality, beach-cute but not kitsch, 668 The Gig Shack has, through and through, the best of vibes. This family- run spot has been such a neighborhood favorite since it opened in 2006 that it’s often simply called “The Shack,” with families, friend groups and dates alike flocking to its tables year after year for unfussed food, great drinks, and – as its full name suggests – fantastic live music.
From jazz to soul to acoustic, The Shack’s lineup spans genres and the summer months. As to be expected, the Shack gets crowded on music nights, so the best plan of action is to come early, order some margaritas and pulled pork empanadas, and sit back and relax until sunset brings the tunes. (782 Main St., Montauk)