About a week ago my sister and I ate at Wölffer Kitchen in our hometown Sag Harbor, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised after having a lukewarm dining experience earlier last fall.
The locale is the first winery-owned restaurant in the Hamptons, and for the most part, it's a winner.
The dinner was a bit impromptu, with a cocktail becoming much more upon arrival at the brightly-light, clean looking restaurant. Differing in ambiance from the previous dark wood and dark lighting, the aesthetic at Wölffer Kitchen is a funky, and colorful oasis, unlike most other eateries here on the East End.
The bartender was extremely knowledgeable and helpful in describing his libation menu, as cocktails turned into us ordering a bottle: Fatalis Fatum, a merlot, cabernet blend. It was perfectly balanced, truly one of the best Wölffer Vineyard has to offer, and was perfect for the food.
The good (bar/drink wise): It's comfy, cool, clean, and the drink menu includes something for everyone: classic cocktails with a few modern, zingy alterations. Also be sure to check out their bar menu, which resembles food offered at the winery, for some simple and quick good eats.
The bad: The wine list itself. With Fatalis Fatum being some of the best on the list, it ain't cheap ($23 a glass, over $100 for a bottle). The wine list is lacking, with, you guessed it, Wölffer wines taking up most of it. A few other offerings from North Fork vineyards, and some obscure, unrelatable wines round out the rest of the underwhelming list.
Now, that being said, let's talk about the good stuff and that's the food.
With veteran Hamptons chef Brian Cheewing at the helm, the food at Wölffer Kitchen is classic, tasty, well-priced and sure to promote happy tummies.
We started with a Buffalo mozzarella and beet salad with poached pears, fennel micro basil and an aged balsamic. The cheese was generously portioned, the beets and pear cooked perfectly: still slightly firm, anything but mushy, and the fennel microgreens counteracted the sweetness from the balsamic perfectly.
Next we opted for one of the additions of the evening: a beautiful tuna tartare with capers and separated egg, along with crostini with cracked black pepper, a nice touch I must say. Gorgeous color, super fresh; a true testament to Cheewing's constant and reliable efforts in providing quality seafood. If seafood is on the menu, don't hesitate. It'll be fresh, I promise.
For entrees, be sure to check out the braised short rib with polenta and sautéed broccoli rabe. Fork tender and the perfect winter dish. Risotto with wild mushrooms, spinach and black truffle butter was another winner as was the veal osso buco with saffron rice and sautéed greens. Don't miss the butternut squash ravioli in a sage lemoncello brown butter and, like I said, anything seafood.
Wölffer Kitchen is located at 29 Main Street in Sag Harbor and is open six days a week (closed Mondays). Dinner is served from 5:30 to 10:30 PM, with a brunch menu offered on Sundays. Call 631-725-0101 for reservations and more information.