Restaurateur Michael Gluckman, a fixture of the East End who was known, most recently, for East Hampton’s Service Station, has sought to reinvigorate the old Little Red space, turning it into a family-friendly casual dining spot with a nautical vibe. Open for lunch, brunch, and dinner, The Tackle Box is a welcome addition to Southampton’s markedly formal dining scene. Gluckman has signed a 10-year lease on the space, which is proof that he believes in the concept, and intends to stick around for the long haul.
The menu’s emphasis — unsurprisingly, given the name — is on seafood. For appetizers, sea-loving diners can choose between bacon-wrapped scallops with a spiced balsamic honey sauce; a tuna tostada with avocado, jalapeño, and scallions; and a Maryland-style jumbo lump crab cake with tartar sauce and mixed greens. The crispy Brussels sprouts come with pork belly and pickled onions, the pow pow cauliflower with sweet chili sauce.
Salads are equally seafood-centric. Sure, there’s a beet salad with goat cheese, as well as a take on a Caesar (here comes that cauliflower again), but there’s also a lobster salad with shaved radish and a toasted garlic-sesame ginger vinaigrette, as well as a crab and avocado salad with citrus, cucumber, and mixed greens.
Entrees are equally diverse. For those who prefer to tread on dry land, there is an organic chicken, served with sautéed kale, honey-glazed carrots, and a pan jus. A burger is adorned with “tackle sauce,” and a skirt steak comes with French fries, as it should. But besides the sole vegetarian entrée — Brussels sprout tacos with oyster mushrooms and fire-roasted tomato salsa — the rest of the mains are from the sea.
Local sea scallops come atop a butternut squash puree. Sesame-ginger salmon is pan-seared and served over farro and mushrooms. A blackened fish taco enjoys the spoils of the kitchen: pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, and chipotle sauce, all held together in a flour tortilla. The lobster roll is, at $28, among the most conservatively priced in town. It comes with French fries, to boot.
I should backtrack here and mention the raw bar: local oysters and clams, both affordable, and both even more affordable at Happy Hour. You can get them at brunch, too, along with $15 bottomless bloody Marys, mimosas, and bellinis. Actually, the brunch menu is compelling in its own right. Pork belly eggs Benedict? Sold. Although I’m a sucker for a breakfast burger, too; Tackle Box’s comes with a runny egg, bacon, and the regular fixings.
It’s a difficult choice, but someone has to make it. No easier is the choice between the pot de crème (with chocolate and whipped cream), key lime pie, flourless chocolate cake, and triple chocolate cake. It reads like a best hits list from one’s childhood imagination.
The menu, as a whole, is smart without being unnecessarily challenging. Prices find the sweet spot. The most expensive entrée, the seared tuna, clocks in at $37. That price tag would get you half a steak at some of the Hamptons’ more upscale establishments. Which is kind of the point. The Tackle Box is attempting to pick up where Little Red left off last year. It’s an approachable restaurant that aims to please — and, with a decade to go, the hope is that it will continue to do so for a long, long time.