I’ll give you a minute to consider how few places offer both an irresistible view of the water and a competitive happy hour. Still thinking it over? If a water view in the Hamptons feels loaded with either pretension or excessive expense, you’ve been hitting up the wrong spots.
Until recently, East Hampton Springs’ Harbor Bistro competed with Bay Kitchen Bar for the view-happy hour one-two punch. But Bay Kitchen Bar is relocating to a non-water-adjacent location (in Southampton, where the Princess Diner used to be), and there’s no word yet on whether or not Bostwick’s will offer dollar oysters. Ergo: Get thee to Harbor Bistro while you still can.
Every evening at the bar, between 5 and 7 PM, the restaurant offers $8 wines and designated cocktails (I’m there for the Kir Royale and Sunset Rum Punch, in case you were wondering), $5 cans of beer, and $10 small plates. Food offerings include clams and oysters on the half-shell, a Greek salad flatbread, chips and guacamole, chicken potstickers, goat cheese croquettes, togarashi shrimp, tempura-battered Shishito peppers, and truffle-Parmesan fries.
Actually, that’s not even the best deal in the house. Here’s a brilliant Hamptons concept if ever there was one: from 5 to 6 each night, and all night at the bar, diners can enjoy a $29 “Sunset Menu,” which includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, or, alternately, an appetizer, entrée, and glass of wine. Appetizer options include a Satur Farms salad, Asian noodle soup, and grilled Romaine hearts, while entrées include odes to both land and sea (hibachi-style salmon, linguine and clams made with local bivalves, and a summer fettuccini featuring chicken, vegetables, and white wine are a few of the choices available). For dessert, there are sorbets, ice creams, and profiteroles.
If you prefer the limitlessness of a full menu, you can have that all evening long. The full menu offers a comprehensive taste of the sea, starting with a full list of raw bar items: salmon belly tartare (cucumber, capers, and a shallot remoulade), Yellowfin tuna poké (avocado, Macadamia nuts, seaweed), Montauk fluke ceviche (lime, mango, jalapeño), scallop crudo (corn, Serrano pepper, passion fruit), and tuna sashimi (nori rice and hot pepper sauce).
For appetizers, there are Mongolian barbecue ribs, tuna tostados, vegan Thai peanut ramen, fried calamari, local fish tacos, steamed little necks, and more. The is one of those appetizer lists that sends your brain reeling. How is it possible to decide between so many delicious things?
Let’s skip the salad section for a moment (there is an entire section devoted to salads, to be clear) and move on to entrées. There are 14 entrées available, not including the lobster BLT, which is only available on Thursday and Sunday evenings. In the mood for something casual? Consider the fried chicken sandwich, or the burger, each of which is served with hand-cut fries. Are you a fish lover? I dare you to choose between the “steakhouse” monkfish, gulf shrimp with day boat scallops, pistachio-crusted swordfish, or the “surfers’ combo” of Montauk fluke and nori-seared tuna. For landlubbers there is a charred steak tataki with pickled shiitake mushrooms, a roasted chicken breast with Yukon gold mashed potatoes, a five spice-dusted Crescent Farms duck breast, and a pork tenderloin schnitzel.
All this while you while away the sunset, staring out at the perfect blues, pinks, and oranges reflected on Three Mile Harbor. Stare out into the abyss for long enough and dessert, perhaps in the form of warm almond cake, seems like a better and better idea. Or maybe it was the peach cobbler or the berries sabayon that caught your attention? Choice is a magical thing.