You have to drive down a narrow length of not-to-pretty scenery called Industrial Road to get to Navy Beach Restaurant. You’ll think you’re not in the Hamptons anymore. You’re not. When you arrive at Navy Beach you’re somewhere on a Mediterranean coast. It’s a hot, happenin’ place that draws families as well as singles – its beach offers a safe place for kids to play. There are tables and comfy plastic Adirondack chairs out there, plus cushioned couches and benches that are (as demonstrated by a young couple) wide enough for canoodling. The scene is ultra beachy – with driftwood moments and vintage swimsuits and swim caps decorating inside, busboys moving at lightening speed and a bevy of beautiful women on the staff and on the rocky beach. A wall of vintage Navy posters harken back to a time when sailors were stationed in Montauk.
It’s a popular pastime to watch the sun set over the vast blue expanse of the bay.
The only local to make the wine list is Lieb – but there were several good champagnes and international beers and a full bar at our disposal.
My husband and I each started with one of Navy Beach’s new cocktails – a southie for me, a rob collins for him. (Everything on the menu is in lowercase letters, very low key.)
A southie is pretty much a Southside without the sweetness, its simple syrup, and with the addition of cucumber. I found this mix of gin, cucumber, mint and lemon naturally sour. The mint kept it from going overboard. I liked it more when my ice had melted a bit. Husband determined that his rob collins of gin, lemon, soda and St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur was “Nice. Not as sweet as a Tom Collins.”
We sat inside. Our server Amy pulled the window shade next to our table down against the early evening sun. And who’s that two tables away? Julianne Moore and family. They spend a lot of time in Montauk now.
The menu of Small Plates, Salads, Sides, Raw & Cebiche and Large Plates sports worldwide culinary influences.
We shared a sizeable bowl of shishito peppers with sea salt and lime (give it a good squeeze over the peppers – it really sparks ‘em). Warm, mild and tasty – the perfect drinkin’ snack.
We also shared a sauteed crab cake with fennel slaw and limey, smooth avocado. Its presentation was “gorg’” with a bright orange zigzag of sauce across the plate. Delicate texture with a lot of crab flavor – it’s all crab with a touch of breadcrumbs on the outside.
Husband enjoyed a tuna nikkei, tuna cebiche with avocado, wakame, cherry tomatoes and kernels of crunchy Peruvian corn served in a bowl made of iceberg lettuce. He pronounced it “Good. All very fresh and tasty.”
Husband was tempted by the navy burger with its bacon onion marmalade, cabot cheese, house pickles and hand-cut fries. He contemplated the fish tacos with pico de gallo and lime crema but eventually settled on the seared sea scallops with foie gras, fried capers, curried cauliflower and golden raisins. Amy paired this with a Stonecap Sauvignon Blanc (from New Zealand). A tasteful, smooth wine, it worked very well with the luscious scallops and the flavorful cauliflower.
I had the lobster saffron – lobster in the (cracked) shell over a risotto cake with chorizo, with edamame, cherry tomatoes and thick lobster broth encircling the main event. It was a rich and delish party on a plate, topped with fresh cilantro. I found the risotto cake smoky good – but over-firm.
It was a good thing that we had skipped bread at the beginning of the meal, we didn’t have room for dessert. That’s right, we passed on goat cheese cheescake, chocolate truffle mousse cake, key lime pie, blueberry sorbet and vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Husband enjoyed a cappuccino.
At Navy Beach the view goes on forever and I imagine that the groovy, bassy music does too.
Navy Beach Restaurant, 16 Navy Road, Montauk. 631-668-6868, www.navybeach.com