The Coast Grill has perched on Wooley Pond for more than 25 years. This season, it feels younger.
New ownership and a new chef refresh the mood and the food, reviving the country-style restaurant. Once again, it's a destination for casual style and very good American cooking. Just before you enter the inevitable traffic jam on Route 27, turn north. You'll find a more relaxed, year-round side of the Hamptons.
Brightened and streamlined, The Coast Grill looks the part better than ever. Check the boats at the Peconic Marina. Watch a ballgame on TV. Have a drink. Notice the oversize whisk and fork in spots that so many water-view eateries reserve for nautical kitsch.
Roasted local oysters, finished with spinach, applewood-smoked bacon and Pernod-infused cream, top the appetizers. Likewise, a lush confit of Long Island duck, with lentils, shaved apple and sun-dried cherries, in a Port reduction. They compete with a satisfying shrimp cocktail and a husky crab cake paired with a local corn and wild mushroom fricassee. Sweet corn also stars in a green-bean salad with grape tomatoes, mâche and a shallot vinaigrette. You'll find buttery, seared sea scallops that carry a hint of truffle. And a special of pan-seared striped bass, with chive-sparked beurre blanc, leads the main-course seafood, along with rosy Atlantic salmon on braised lentils and caramelized baby carrots. There's respectable linguine with white clam sauce. The juicy sirloin steak with mashed potatoes claims its turf in a mostly surf show. Coconut crème brûlée is the big finale, followed by the brownie sundae.
Steamed mussels are overcooked. Limp fried calamari; dry grilled shrimp; bland branzino. Apple strudel: soggy.
THE BOTTOM LINE