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beachhouse in East Hampton

The restaurant named "beachhouse" is a creative American

The restaurant named "beachhouse" is a creative American steak house on Montauk Highway in East Hampton. (2011) Credit: Handout

You could conduct an archaeological dig at beachhouse. It occupies the site where veteran diners have experienced 103 Prime, JL East, Peconic Coast, Duke's and, still deeper in memory, Little Rock Rodeo.

Beachhouse, the 2011 entry, is brighter and more summery than any of them, and a bit less predictable.

Chef Dennis J. Farrell oversees the kitchen of the seasonal, surf-and-turf establishment, almost equal parts steakhouse and seafood, with some pasta to broaden the repertoire and a few curiosities to awaken the appetite.

It's rare to start a meal with roasted pork and beans: a hefty hunk of pork belly, cooked till crisp outside, serving as a bull's eye surrounded by sweet baked kidney beans. But it's satisfying in a haute backyard way, the heavyweight counterpoint to openers such as the mild gratin of baked clam and crab, and the smoky grilled shrimp paired with "cheesy grits."

A beet-and-goat cheese terrine arrives as a gold-and-red, ying-yang construct bisected by an increasingly tinted layer of tangy Mecox Bay Dairy chevre. But a summer pasta -- whole-wheat penne tossed with tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil -- is standard stuff. Likewise, the 8-ounce burger.

Pan-roasted tilefish swims in slowly, surrounded by a dry, white-bean puree. The dish gets a boost from a dollop of tomato-bacon marmalade, which imparts a sweet-smoky spark. The grilled, whole fish du jour may be local bass, snowy and mild, though adrift in a watery sauce starring sliced tomatoes.

For dessert, the choices include gelati, a brownie sundae, Key lime pie, cheesecake for a taste of déjà vu.

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