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South Shore Dive Pub and Kitchen review: West Sayville gastro bar offers craft brews, comfort food

Buffalo leg confit topped with a cumin-accented sauce,

Buffalo leg confit topped with a cumin-accented sauce, blue cheese crumbles and shaved celery at the South Shore Dive Pub and Kitchen. Credit: Daniel Brennan

SOUTH SHORE DIVE PUB AND KITCHEN

FOOD . .

65 Main St.

West Sayville

631-218-6500

southshoredive.com

SERVICE Fair

AMBIENCE Fair

ESSENTIALS Monday to Friday noon to 1 a.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; brunch, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; accepts major credit cards; not wheelchair accessible.

Early on a weeknight, this hip little gastro bar can be deceptively quiet. But on a weekend — especially at brunch — it can feel as if everyone under 30 in southern Suffolk is in the house.

The narrow storefront of South Shore Dive Pub and Kitchen has whimsical vintage deep-sea diving art and memorabilia and a tin ceiling from which loud conversation and music ricochets. Seating is at high-top tables or backless bar stools; the room temperature can fluctuate. Yet most don’t seem to mind. Some are imbibing craft draft brews; others sip artisanal cocktails, one made with butternut squash and apple cider.

From consulting chef Craig Attwood’s small menu come some big comforts. One night, briny fresh baked clams excel, thanks to a light lemony crumb topping. Shinnecock Inlet oysters have a clean, marine flavor; no need for even a squirt of lemon. Butternut squash shows up in an autumnal soup as well as in a lively salad punctuated by pumpkin seeds.

A must-order: Buffalo leg confit — chicken legs fried in duck fat and coated with a nuanced cumin sauce.

But a duck sausage “dog” with duck confit chili is surprisingly dull. And crisp pork belly served over roasted apples and lentils sounds better than it tastes. So, too, does a veggie banh mi sandwich. Mac and cheese, however, is lush and harmonious. Coming together well is the Dive King burger, two patties topped with spicy ketchup, bacon, Cheddar and more. Accompanying hand-cut fries are cold on one occasion, hot on another.

At brunch, the opulent Monte Christo egg sandwich would be better without the sweetness of maple syrup. Chicken and red velvet waffles score with the chicken but not the sugary sweet waffles. A side order of thin, delicate pancakes come to the table stone-cold after languishing on the kitchen window ledge. A server cheerfully takes them back and, minutes later, brings a new batch; they’re piping hot, ideal.

South Shore Dive has no desserts for now. And while it may have service issues, it also possesses that rare combination of ambition and culinary skill.

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