A South Fork in the Road: Wining, Dining and Slumbering

The Hamptons have entered Phase 3 of reopening and has become a destination ready, willing and excited to have visitors and guests, resplendent with long days and blue skies, crystal clear waters and cultural happenings, albeit all socially distanced — so much to see, do and explore. The sea breeze has settled in, encouraging guests to stay as well. The Hamptons conjure up images of lunching on local oysters and clams on the beach, splurging on bright red grilled lobsters for dinner, sunning and surfing by day and cocktail sipping in your best little black dress by night, dressed down in flip flops. Casual mingles with formal here and it just plain
works — like the Hamptons as a whole. Maybe it’s the unpretentious vibe that attracts surfers and socialites alike. Its lighthouse stands stoically atop a rocky bluff overlooking the coastline of Montauk Point State Park, partnering with all things natural like its beaches (such as Ditch Plains Beach with the best surf on the island) and its pristine waters loaded with fish. Peppered with a variety of hotels and guest houses along with top-notch restaurants and health-inspired venues, the Hamptons offer you the
chance to do absolutely nothing or everything you desire. Do it up fancy, or fancy-free, it’s your choice.

Completely unpretentious and loaded with natural charm and beauty, the Southampton Village portion of the Hamptons has to its credit, nearly seven miles of oceanfront with eleven separate beaches. The charming influence of its rich history allows a glimpse into this region in years past as it combines with its current renderings.

For lodging, The Southampton Inn is classic, unassuming and utterly charming. Surrounded by magnificent estates, historic homes, museums, galleries, unique shops and some of the finest restaurants, The Inn offers 90 guest rooms stocked with high end amenities and grounds consisting of several acres of manicured lawns and gardens. A 50-foot heated outdoor pool, an all weather tennis court, croquet and volleyball allow a diversity
of activities. In addition, the Inn has a complimentary, seasonal shuttle that takes guests to Coopers Beach, just one scant mile away. In house, Claude’s Restaurant —in keeping with our “new normal” standard — has been transformed into The Great American Picnic Place, with menus including popular breakfast choices such as two farm fresh eggs cooked to order, choice of sausage links or smoked bacon, toast and breakfast potatoes, as well as a variety of sandwiches, salads, soups and fresh baked deserts. Take your picnic basket (complete with rosé or champagne to toast and sip, fruit smoothies or home-made iced tea) to your table in the courtyard, on the pool patio, the lawns, to your guest room or nearby Agawam Park. The Inn has been strictly following CDC sanitizing and disinfecting protocols, recently implementing a mobile Ultratech UV/ozone light to sanitize guest rooms and public areas with even greater efficiency. And, their signature restaurant has been expanded to the bar area and part of the ballroom, to allow more social distancing.

For a sublime dining option, Union Burger Bar, is celebrating its one-year anniversary in Southampton. With restaurateur and owner Ian Duke and award-winning Executive Chef Scott Kampf at the helm, this restaurant offers a casual and delicious dining experience. Featuring an assortment of specialty gourmet burgers, fresh hand-cut fries, creamy milkshakes and delicious desserts with a robust selection in craft beer and small batch bourbon, all tastes are satisfied. The Burger Bar menu includes such delectable choices as the Coopers Beach 8 oz black angus beef burger with avocado, bean sprouts, pineapple marmalade, lettuce and tomato on a multi-grain bun or the Black & Bleu 8 oz black angus beef burger with bleu cheese, applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, caramelized walnut crumble on a brioche bun, and many more choices beyond. Complimentary sides and salads such as Scotty’s AwardWinning Truffle Fries topped with parmesan cheese, round out the meal perfectly. Why not treat yourself to a refreshing shake such as the whimsically named Not Sorry shake with Nutella, Reece’s pieces frosted rim, peanut butter milkshake, whipped cream and Reece’s peanut butter cups.

As you sip it, try not to apologize.

On the return to Southampton, The Bell & Anchor in Sag Harbor, is a seafood restaurant with a New American spirit. With industry veterans David Loewenberg and Sam McCleland at the helm, The Bell & Anchor dining room features a panoramic waterfront view of the Mill Creek Marina, and nautically-inspired décor to match, resplendent with wide planked floors, cream colored walls with navy blue suede booth and banquet style seating, along with wooden tables dressed with white table cloths. Bell & Anchor gleaned its atmosphere right from the rich history of Sag Harbor, Noyac, Peconic and the region in general, offering local seafood, steak, beer, produce and wine. Appetizers include specialties as Steamed Mussels “Anchor Style” with coconut milk, lemon grass and Thai chiles while the homemade port chowder with white ƒsh, clams, potato, bacon and cream satisfy the seafood lover. Hand crafted cocktails such as the Baya Sarita prepared with Doña Sarita Mezcal, mixed berries, lime and the Ruby Rita refreshes and the wine selection features local and international wines by the glass, with an emphasis on local.

Ian Duke and partner David Hilty, the owners of the Southampton Social Club and Union Burger Bar, also have unveiled the East End’s hottest new dining destination: Union Sushi and Steak, a modern twist to the steakhouses of yore. The French American inspired menu features dry aged steaks as well as a fresh sushi and sashimi menu, bringing a pop of an Asian fusion vibe. Enjoy the meal with a cocktail, the Outside Manhattan Russel’s — mixed with 10-year-old bourbon, Carpano Antica, Dutch’s Spirits colonial
bitters topped with a luxardo cherry. Cheers!

T-Bar Southampton of New York City’s Upper Eastside fame is following the strict CDC and Health Department guidelines, with adequately spaced outside patio dining, and takeout options. The menu features a wide range of dishes, such as the Zucchini Carpaccio made with goat cheese, capers, basil, and mint, or the Crispy Sushi, Yellow ƒn Tuna Tartar and Vietnamese Shrimp Roll. The Steak Bar features a range of certified Black Angus cuts of beef including its Black Angus Porterhouse for two served with a choice of Steak Sauce, Béarnaise Sauce or Poivre Sauce to accompany. The Linguine Cacio Pepe here is rivaled by none and the Crispy Long Island Duck with sweet potatoes and orange glaze is done beautifully.

A few miles away in Amagansett, The Clam Bar, with its casual, atmosphere is perfect for a quick stop over. It embodies the spirit of summer at the beach where folks gather under umbrellas at outdoor tables to relax, drink and eat. Chef/Manager Brian Mooney is happy to chat about his beloved local oysters as well as the abundant catch of the day choice ƒsh. The clams on the half shell, steamers and oysters here are iced fresh and tasty. The lobster roll is signature and popular overstuffed with fresh lobster meat, as is the fried clams, perfectly seasoned to compliment their natural flavor. There are plenty of good non-seafood options as well, like burgers,
hot dogs and fresh salads. A slice of Key Lime Pie finishes your meal
nicely, with the Caramel Sea Salt Cheesecake a very close second.

Duryea’s Lobster Deck, a historic fish market and lobster deck,
features a stunning ambience with dining right on the deck overlooking the rocks and water. Giant plates of seafood are served
family-style, and include popular menu items like the grilled or
steamed lobster, classic clam bake, Duryea’s famous lobster roll or
a towering seafood raw bar. For a tasty treat, the grilled 3-pound
Octopus Romesco with shaved fennel, sweet peppers, pickled onions, chimichurri and a balsamic glaze is a perfect choice. For on-the-go dining, the fish market features fresh local seafood along with farm-to-market products such as Fairview Farm homemade jams and preserves and Backyard Brine pickles.

For a taste of the sea, why not drive further east to Montauk? On the way to Montauk via East Hampton, Bostwick’s Chowder House offers casual seafood in a laid-back setting with indoor and outdoor seating. Chef Chris’ menu offers an array of fresh local seafood specialties. Starters include several chowders such as New England clam chowder, Manhattan clam chowder, corn chowder and lobster bisque. Raw bar items available include clams on the half shell, shrimp cocktail, oysters on the half shell and seared tuna. A selection of additional appetizers includes baked stuffed clams; coconut shrimp spring rolls; calamari; steamed mussels; and calamari with marinara dipping sauce. The rolls and sandwiches portion of the menu features the signature lobster roll; flounder sandwich; oyster po’ boy; grilled chicken sandwich; and clam strip roll. The seafood platters section of the menu focuses on fried seafood favorites with fried clam bellies, clam strips, shrimp, fish and chips, oysters and flounder. Fresh whole lobsters are offered at market price served with corn on the cob, coleslaw and drawn butter. Entrée specialties include fish tacos, broiled sea scallops, shrimp scampi, sautéed crab cakes and seafood pasta. Daily blackboard specials also offer fresh fish entrées such as potato crusted halibut, grilled swordfish, grilled tuna, grilled Mako and more. The space features a casual atmosphere with a beach and seaside theme. Light colors, exposed wood and fun décor like surfboards and beach art on the walls contribute to the laid-back ambiance.