This isn’t necessarily the weekend to try a new restaurant for dinner. From Amagansett to Quogue desperate chefs are finding their walk-ins empty, while haggard waitstaff have had it up to here with summer folk playing hookie. But here’s a little East End secret—summer doesn’t really end on Labor Day. There’s nearly a month until the autumn equinox, and our maritime climate means September, October, and sometimes November can be as balmy as a cool day in August.
So instead of making this weekend a swan’s song, consider it your chance to sample the goods for a return after Tumbleweed Tuesday. While most others are getting in their last fling at the beach, you should be grabbing lunch on the water.
My local option is the Beacon on West Water Street in Sag Harbor, where last night diners were tucking into lobster rigatoni, sirloin burger with crisp fries, and the local black seabass. The wait for dinner was two hours, but Beacon also serves lunch every day through the end of September (and maybe October if the demand is there.) The deck overlooks Sag Harbor’s working waterfront (or former working water front) which is now mostly home to party yachts, and recreational fishing boats—as well as Christie Brinkley’s back yard. But the bank of windows makes a table inside just as nice.
The kitchen is run by chef Sam McCleland, who is co-owner with restaurateur David Loewenberg, the owner of redbar in Southampton and Fresno in East Hampton. Loewenberg can be seen this time of year juggling wine bottles, comping deserts for friends, and encouraging lingering lollygaggers to move on and free up an in-demand table. On a recent visit, favorites included the lobster roll and cubano sandwich. The Beacon Royal, an occasional special made up of ponzu-marinated sea scallops served alongside tuna sashimi wrapped around Hudson Valley foie gras, juxtaposes decadence, deliciousness, and three foods that would never coexist in nature. 8 West Water Street, Sag Harbor New York 11963; 631-725-7088.
The waterfront dining spectrum runs from ocean-view to dockside, and the food generally corresponds, running from fancy to workaday. Here are a list of options, with oceanside joints listed first; and all have a strong allegiance to the nearby seafood and produce, which only improve into fall.
East Hampton Point. Awe-inspiring view of Three Mile Harbor with seafood-heavy cuisine and popular raw bar. 295 Three Mile Harbor Road, East Hampton New York 11937; 631-329-2800
Sunset Beach. Where the models and moguls hang out on Shelter Island. Food was recently upgraded by Lever House transplant Dan Silverman. 37 Shore Road, Shelter Island New York 11964; 631-749-1843
Michael’s on the Boardwalk. Not technically on the water, Chef Michael Meehan’s eatery on Main Street serves some of the best food in Riverhead—a short hop from the revamped Peconic River boardwalk. 65 East Main Street, Riverhead New York 11901; 631-727-0646
Seafood Barge. A North Fork institution with perhaps the most extensive local wine list on the Island. Try the Montauk tuna sashimi with local potato chips. 150 Old Main Road, Southold New York 11971; 631-765-3010
Dockside Bar & Grill. Another Sag Harbor option, this restaurant is just down the street from the farmers market, a serves up a fried flounder sandwich and steamers that will make any meal. 26 Bay Street, Sag Harbor NY 11963; 631-725-7100
The Fish Farm. Way off the beaten path, the barking dogs, fried options, and Styrofoam service evoke Maine roadside diner, but the bluefish, flounder, lobster and clams are all local. Cranberry Hole Road, Amagansett New York 11930; 631-267-3341
Duryea’s Lobster Pound. Hard to find and pricey for a lobster shack. But you won’t be disappointed by the view or food. 65 Tuthill Road, Montauk New York 11954; 631-668-2410
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