1 North Steakhouse
322 W Montauk Hwy. Hampton Bays, NY 631-594-3419
A spare, unpretentious spot, situated along the Shinnecock Canal, just north of Route 27. The steaks are good, the service is friendly, and the eatery is becoming a local hangout. Worth a visit from you, too.Hours: Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday, from 5 p.m. Saturday lunch, Sunday brunch, from 11 a.m. Closed Monday. Ambience: Good Service: Very Good Reservations: Recommended Credit cards: Accepted
Unaffected and unHamptoned, 1 North Steakhouse starts the summer season glitz-free but with the right kind of sizzle. If paparazzi show up, they must be lost. The local hangout along the Shinnecock Canal is as straightforward as its name. And, compared with the competing beef joints of the Hamptons, it almost seems bargain-priced. You're better off sticking with the froufrou-free fare, which is dependable. But the kitchen sometimes overreaches, and those results aren't so successful. Decor is as much to the point as your steak. 1 North is spare and earth-toned, with some polished wood and harmless artwork. There's a bar in front for the thirsty and the waiting; and a big room in the back suitable for larger groups. The main dining area goes from cozy to tight in a hurry. Likewise, your belt.
Lobster bisque arrives ample and full-flavored, with nuggets of shellfish. Cream of wild mushroom emphasizes the shiitake, cremini and oyster varieties, keeping the texture away from the all-too-familiar version that turns your spoon into a shovel. A special of tender, "pork wings" makes pigs fly with very meaty, trimmed shanks that are given the Buff-chick treatment. It would be considered entree-size elsewhere. Duck spring rolls: tasty. Plump sea scallops wrapped in bacon don't need their sweet apricot glaze, but pair neatly with corn-and-avocado salsa. The No. 1 steak is the excellent filet mignon. The best dessert - creamy, blueberry-capped cheesecake.
Only the filet mignon with caramelized shallots survives the appetizer trio of sliders. The others: overdone tuna with seaweed and a dull, marinated portobello mushroom cap with mozzarella. So-so macaroni and cheese includes smoked Gouda and Cheddar, and chewy lobster. Grilled tuna with soy-and-wasabi glaze: bland and dry. Peconic Bay scallops are overwhelmed by the gluey, "pink Alfredo" sauce and pasty fettuccine. Skippable crème brûlée.
The bottom line
Here comes the sun.