29 May 2008

Casual Dinning on the East End

One of the pleasures of summer on the East End is having lunch at a casual place, which offers interesting and occasionally outstanding meals. Here are notes from some places where we recently have had lunch.

Jamesport Country Kitchen
1601 Main Road
Jamesport, NY 11947

Located directly on Main Road in Jamesport, this buttercup yellow house/inn offers the informed diner a wonderful meal and an opportunity to sample local North Fork wine.

The simple dining rooms are crisp and clean and reflect the sparse but satisfying food served in a pleasant country environment. Service is not only pleasant, but quite professional.

The menu features American classics and modern American interpretations of international classic, all prepared with the best ingredients and with attention to details. Go simple and you will not be disappointed.

The Country Kitchen features all local wines at reasonable prices, maybe due in part to the fact that the table next to yours may be occupied by a local winemaker or winery owner. Go local, ask for a recommendation and you will be pleased.

Jamesport Country Kitchen – Highly Recommended

Dune Road
Hampton Bays, NY 11946

A large seafood restaurant located on a fishing marina, overlooking the inlet between the Atlantic Ocean and Shinnecock Bay shouts in flashing neon “Tourist Trap.”

But Oakland’s is anything but a tourist place. It is a excellent Seafood/American restaurant professionally managed with a kitchen that prepares first class American food.

In addition to the outstanding location, the New England Lighthouse designed restaurant features a large inviting bar area, a huge dining room, with panoramic windows on three sides, and a large outdoor deck and tiki bar.

The American/Seafood menu features local seafood. Frequent nightly specials include the Lobster Bash, a true New England clam/lobster bake of chowder, shrimp, clams or mussels, cob of corn and 1 ½ lb lobster.

The limited wine list is priced incredibly low. Many local wines are featured.

The wait service is surprisingly good despite many local high school students serving as the waiter/runners.

Oakland’s – Highly Recommended

Dockers Waterside Restaurant & Marina
94 Dune Road
East Quogue, NY 11942

The only East Quogue restaurant on the barrier island, Docker’s is a great place to sit outside, overlook the Shinnecock Bay and enjoy a simple American or Seafood lunch.

The beach shack d├ęcor is perfect for the location and the menu is perfect for what one seeks at such a place. Preparation by the kitchen varies between good/very good/excellent. Nonetheless, the food is always decent to very good, served in a polite and friendly manner.

A limited wine list is matched to the food and waterside environment.

Dockers – Recommended

Modern Snack Bar
628 Main Road
Aquebogue, NY 11931

The Modern Snack Bar is the iconic building featured recently in a Toyota television commercial. It is also a relic of a different era, which is played to the nines by the staff dressed in 50’s waitress outfits.

The menu is composed of American classic and a few German influence dishes such as sauerbraten. The food is prepared in a very 50’s style, over cooked and occasionally over sauced. While far from the highest level of quality or preparation, the food is very satisfying.

Wine is served, but this is not a food and wine place. Stick to soft drinks and beer.

Service is friendly and acceptable.

Modern Snack Bar - Acceptable

Cutchogue Diner
Main Road
Cutchogue, NY 11935

A historic landmark 1930's diner is located in the middle of Chutchogue, which is almost a museum in that it has more historical character than functionality.

While the architectural value is high the food value is marginal. The menu is traditional American. The kitchen, frequently one short order cook, prepares marginal food composed of quality local indigents. Prices are surprisingly high.

Local North Fork wine is served, but the selections limited.

Service is adequate.

Cutchogue Diner - Acceptable

23 Main Street
Sag Harbor, NY 11963

For years Sen in Sag Harbor was the place for sushi on the East End. The Japanese minimalist place located near the wharf area in lower Sag Harbor had the design, service and most importantly the fresh sushi that made is a destination location.

Apparently recent ownership and management changes have transformed Sen into at best a mediocre sushi place.

A recent lunch was composed of old and over cooked Endame, and some of the worst sashimi and sushi we have ever been served. The preparation was amateurish, the rice was not sticky rice and the overall composition was awful.

And as bad as the food was, the service was worst.

The limited wine list is grossly over priced.

Sen - Unacceptbale

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