The Beacon will guide you to Sag Harbor. It lights up dining out.

Here's the offspring of red/bar brasserie, the white-hot, lower-case eatery from the team of David Loewenberg and Kirk Basnight that sparked Southampton.

A lot of restaurants have occupied this space, most notable being the Sunset Grille a decade ago. The Beacon has an easygoing style, and flair from the kitchen. And those sunsets on the water top any dessert at any restaurant in town.

You'll enjoy it in a setting illuminated by candlelight sconces, twilight on the water, and the glow of a crowd accustomed to the good life.

But democracy prevails. You're treated well whether that's your Mercedes with Florida plates being scratched by the Land Rover, or the bike sandwiched perilously between them.

The Beacon is the most recent establishment to make Sag Harbor more Hamptonesque. It has a shot of energy that routinely doesn't course through the downtown eateries.

The appetizers at The Beacon definitely are a lively grouping. The tuna tempura sashimi unifies the three with good flavor. The tasty rounds, crisp outside and velvety within, are paired with a daikon salad and ready for a dip in "wasabi ginger beurre blanc."

Sichuan-style confit of duck is happily cross-cultural. It's moist, slightly spicy, and finished with a somen noodle salad.

Turn American and thoroughly warm-weather with a refreshing vichyssoise, the creamy, potato-and-leek soup served cold. Recommended.

Just as invigorating is a first-rate salad of endive, lettuces, quince-pecan vinaigrette and chunks of snappy blue cheese nearly the size of ice cubes. The house's namesake salad also is a special each day. One winner is peppery greens and sliced fruit completed with a bacon vinaigrette.

Roasted monkfish is a terrific entree, accompanied by savoy cabbage, fennel, tomatoes and sweet corn bouillon: a subtle, fragrant, delicious dish. Its competitor is the ginger-crusted halibut, with littleneck clams, bok choy and a miso broth. The soy-glazed salmon swims in with sesame-cucumber slaw, rock shrimp hash and a spirited Thai peanut sauce.

The veal chop with mustard cream and fingerling potatoes won't keep you away from your favorite steak house. But it's tasty enough. The grilled beef tenderloin gets a boost from goat-cheese agnolotti and a mushroom ragout. The "crispy chicken" with onions is juicy and superior.

And, of course, you may have an expertly steamed lobster on the premises.

Desserts are showcases. Try the crepe-souffle, a delightfully airy and delicately half-moon flavored with lemon. A layered creme brulee-and-napoleon construct looks like a sweet starburst and tastes grand. And the dome-shaped chocolate cake is a marvelous exercise in excess. You can take a simpler, but equally enticing, route with mango sorbet.

The Beacon beckons.

-- Peter M. Gianotti

Top Stories