Where to Shell Out for the Freshest Oysters
Full contentedness on the half shell: oysters, plus cocktails, plus sunshine and water views is arguably summer’s most indulgent combination. For fans of this most unique shellfish, here are five spots for the sultriest slurps.
Bell & Anchor (3253 Noyac Rd., Sag Harbor)
Hardly a single seat at the Bell & Anchor in Sag Harbor doesn’t afford a magnificent view over the waters of Mill Creek Marina. The same duo behind Sag Harbor’s Beacon and East Hampton’s Fresno, David Loewenberg and Sam McCleland, runs a tight ship here, where the service has been impeccable since its opening in 2012, and the diverse menu has continued to creatively fashion the freshest seafood into a range of textures and tastes, such as a saffron-rich Bouillabaisse, Thai-style mussels, and cheesy shrimp and grits made even more indulgent with crispy pork belly.
With minimal furnishings between the walls – three of which are windows – the atmosphere is buzzing but romantic, urged on by an exceptional cocktail menu and wine list that has been awarded by Wine Spectator every year since the restaurant’s inauguration. A local tap rotating three wines from local wineries is the perfect accompaniment to a starting platter of oysters, which come from the East and West coasts based on the best availability. A bacon oyster shooter ups the ante by dousing a local oyster in bacon vodka and Bloody Mary.
Morty’s Oyster Stand (2167 Montauk Hwy, Montauk)
For a sun-drenched oyster lunch, the back deck at on-trend Morty’s Oyster Stand, one of the top restaurants that opened last year, is diffcult to beat. Umbrellas shading modern white patio furnishings surrounded by greenery make the design as casual-chic as the oysters are fresh, brought in from East Coast waters and served with lemons, cocktail sauce, and lime- mint mignonette, or broiled – a rare preparation to find in these parts – with parsley and garlic.
Star chef Sam Talbot has fleshed out the lunch menu with an oyster po’boy and steak and chicken sandwiches, while dinner offers deeper options like black bass ceviche and a chili squid with jackfruit, togarashi, and radish. But for the brighter parts of the day, it’s the cocktail menu that should take the most attention: among the considerations are chilled reds by the glass, whites specially selected for summer, local craft beers on draft, specialty cocktails, and frozen drinks including a BBC – the famed Bailey’s Banana Colada from Cyril’s Fish house, the legendary former occupant of Morty’s digs.
Grey Lady (440 West Lake Dr., Montauk)
Tried-and-true for friends and groups, Grey Lady in Montauk consistently serves up good food and drinks with a great time. Nautical themes of driftwood, blue-and-white stripes, and vintage photographs as art set the backdrop for a lively scene around the mosaic-tiled bar, which on weekends moves outside for “sun sets” featuring live music and DJs throughout the season. But for chiller lunches or weekday dinners, there’s all the comfort food that comes from being by the sea: creamy crab on toast, grilled fish tacos, fried seafood platters, steaming bowls of seafood linguine, and – of course – big platters of oysters, available by the half-dozen, dozen, and piecemeal.
Other raw-bar options include clams, shrimp cocktail, Maine lobster, and a daily crudo, which can be combined in different ways into larger “Plateaus” to best serve groups, with bottles of Prosecco addable for $35. Or, go for any one of the tropical cocktails, available by the glass or carafe. \
Sel Rrose (4 South Elmwood Ave., Montauk)
To experience the art of the oyster, turn an eye to Sel Rrose, one of the most eccentric openings in the Hamptons last year. A twist on the original in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the East End Sel Rrose was inspired by the trips that best friends Salvador Dalí and Marcel Duchamp used to take together to the southern Spanish coast, nourishing their creative spirits with the sunny sea air and wine-filled nights. The design is undeniably stunning with black-and-white illustrated murals, enormous banquettes, a centerpiece bar, and all manner of cool light fixtures, accompanied by a pan-European menu featuring a fennel-tinged poached calamari, truffle risotto croquettes, and braised short ribs.
But the focus here is the raw bar, serving oysters from both coasts individually or in grand plateaux with lobster, mussels, and shrimp, washed down with any one of 14 gorgeously crafted cocktails, poured with things like herbes des Provence syrup, rosemary- infused concord grapes, lavender ice, and hopped grapefruit bitters. From the historical concept to the last drop of a passionfruit spritz, every detail here is as much an aphrodisiac as the beloved mollusks.