The Bell & Anchor
The Bell & Anchor's food peals, chimes, trills and rings, heralding this year's catch of East End restaurants.
Here's a confident, stylish, unpretentious, full-flavored eatery, with first-class seafood, plus a water view.
The newcomer, on the former Oasis site, is co-owned by David Loewenberg and executive chef Sam McCleland. They both run The Beacon in downtown Sag Harbor, too.
Loewenberg also co-owns one of last season's winners, little/red in Southampton, as well as Hamptonian mainstays red/bar brasserie and Fresno.
TB&A arrives in seaside hues of blue-green and white, with knotty, wide-plank flooring, slow ceiling fans, and windows on Mill Creek Marina, once you get beyond the parking lot. The relaxed dining room is bright, even when clouds drift by.
That goes for the cuisine of McCleland and chef David Liszanckie, whose New American fare expands to net continental and coastal mainstays.
On the cusp of summer comes the year's most inventive surf-turf opener, dubbed "P.B. & O" -- three lettuce leaves, each holding a rectangle of lightly crisped pork belly, a sweet oyster and house-made kimchee. If you like tastes and textures at play, this is mandatory.
More traditional, and almost as good, is the house's seafood chowder, with finfish, clams, potato, bacon and just enough cream. Coconut milk, lemongrass and Thai chilies spark plump steamed mussels. And a fine fritto misto delivers shrimp, scallops and squid, gilded and crisp. For landlocked appetites, baby back ribs have a hint of guava.
Grilled baby octopus and preserved lemon enrich a satisfying chick pea-and-arugula salad; and dewy lobster elevates the lively riff on Cobb salad.
TB&A's stellar main course is lobster Thermidor, here finished with Cognac, mustard and Gruyère. The story goes that a version of it was named by Napoleon for the month on the French Revolutionary calendar when he tried it. You should taste this one now.
"Old School" mafaldine, or curly edged ribbons of pasta, arrive tossed with lobster, corn, basil and saffron cream, for a lush alternative. The name refers to an early Loewenberg restaurant, the departed 95 School Street, where it was on the menu.
Fish and chips, made with cod, may be a more modest choice, but it's outstanding. Also, try tilefish, atop a raft of braised leeks and Moroccan-spiced quinoa. Just in case: a reliably juicy burger.
Desserts are so-so, brownie sundae to toasted-coconut cake. But the root beer float is made with Stewart's and accompanied by an anchor-shaped cookie.
The Bell & Anchor is exactly what you want. Drop in.