Hamptons Restaurant Review: Café Oso – A Gem Within Southampton Inn

Café Oso is the restaurant and dining area at the Southampton Inn—but you don’t need to be staying at the hotel to enjoy its delicious fare. Dan’s Papers editor Stacy Dermont accompanied me on a lunch outing to the café, intent on exploring its many charms.

We elected to sit outside—aside from the elegance of its indoor, underground accommodations, Café Oso also offers a huge patio for outdoor seating, and even an outside bar—and we enjoyed the music and the sun while our helpful server Tim brought us menus.

The Southampton Inn itself is a stone’s throw from the heart of Southampton Village, and offers a range of amenities, from a tennis court to a heated pool to private gardens. The hotel also sponsors clam and lobster bakes throughout the summer months, occasionally hosts gallery showings and auctions, and allows for easy access to beaches, golf courses, wineries, art galleries and all the other mainstays of Southampton.

Upon sitting down, I asked for the driest white wine on the list. The house pinot grigio proved to be as dry as I’d hoped, while still maintaining a reasonable smoothness. While perusing the menus, Stacy and I noted that a sizable number of gluten-free options are available in addition to the standard lunchtime fare (Café Oso offers breakfast, lunch and dinnertime tapas).

We began with the Atlantic mini crab cakes and an order of guacamole and chips. The crab cakes—which were also served with guacamole, alongside a seaweed salad—were enjoyably spiced and the perfect snack food, while the seaweed salad featured a distinctive “sushi” flavor and was delightfully salty. The hand-crafted guacamole, Stacy was pleased to report, carried a distinctive taste of lime, and included fresh red peppers, red onions, lemon, cilantro, sea salt and black pepper.

Next up were our entrées (I asked for a Burton IPA to accompany the main event—the café features a number of Publick House beers as well as domestic brews).

I ordered the lobster roll, which was served on a potato bun and absolutely packed with fresh lobster, tossed with lemon juice, celery, cayenne and mayonnaise on a bed of lettuce. Stacy’s BLT featured a staggering amount of crispy applewood smoked bacon, topped with beefsteak tomato slices, romaine and mayonnaise. A wooden skewer, crowned with berries, held the sandwich together. We both relished our fries, thin-cut and judiciously salted, but the portions were so massive that neither of us could finish them, though our lunch was far from over at this point.

On Tim’s recommendation, we also tried the pinwheels, opting to go with the Nova Scotia smoked salmon. This was the highlight of the meal, rolling together salmon, cream cheese, lemon, red onion and capers in a neatly sliced wrap. The creamy, briny flavor reminded us both of a miniature lox bagel.

We finished off our dining extravaganza with a hot brownie, topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and dotted with slices of fruit. Next time you’re in the village and looking for a great lunch—Café Oso is only a short walk away!

 Café Oso, 91 Hill Street, Southampton 631-283-6500, southamptoninn.com

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