Last week, I took a staycation out to Montauk and made a pit stop to sample Banzai Burger, a laid back and eclectic burger joint on the Napeague stretch.
A Southampton native, I love making the trek out to The End to take in the beachy vibe, and Banzai Burger is a perfect combination of all that I want from a locale in Napeague. Casual chic, the upscale beach shack is painted white with splashes of sea green and plenty of open windows to allow diners to take advantage of cool breezes and sunsets over Napeague Bay.
But there’s another (and more important) reason why this burger joint is quintessentially Montauk – everything is made from scratch, and the fish are fresh off the boat by way of Gosman’s Dock. The meat is sourced from Pat LaFrieda, one of New York’s premier meat purveyors.
My brother Sean and I walked into Banzai Burger and were immediately greeted by hip reggae music and Danny Pustovit, one of the restaurant’s owners.
Our waitress Christine, who recently moved here from Atlanta and couldn’t have better defined the term Southern hospitality, appeared and took our drink order. We chatted about the menu, and though the name would rightfully suggest that this is a burger place, there are also a number of freshly made sushi options. Sean and I ultimately went for the Tuna Steak burger and the Turkey Burger, respectively. In addition to the traditional cheeseburger, Banzai Burger has something for anyone who enjoys having their food sandwiched between a grilled, puffy brioche bun – the Foie Gras Burger, Lamb Burger and Vegan Burger are among the more unusual options.
All of the drinks are made by hand and blended by Nadia the bar manager. I started with the Montauk Margarita, and Sean the Key Lime Pie Martini. Upon first sip, it was obvious that this is more than a simple, pour-from-a-can operation.
Then it was on to the appetizers. We settled on the local Fish Tacos, which include cilantro, lime, pickled red onions and serrano chile and the Shishito peppers with Amagansett Sea Salt.
Before our food arrived, Sean, who had spent the day fishing, commented that he expected the fish tacos to be made of an abundant or “easy” fish to catch like sea bass. But he was both surprised and excited to find that it was made with fresh fluke. Luckily, he offered to share. I loved the cilantro infusion and was happy to find that the whole chunks of fish were grilled.
My peppers, which I was told are popular with locals, would offer a unique sushi pairing as an alternative to something like edamame. The local salt packs a lot of flavor and enhances the grilled tanginess of the peppers.
The peppers also went well with my turkey burger. My main course was everything that a burger should be, plus some crispy strips of bacon. Simple, no nonsense and freshly made. And it had huge pieces of avocadoes that negated any preconceived notion to put ketchup on top. Sean finished his tuna – which is topped with grilled red onions, avocado and wasabi mayo – almost as fast as I finished mine. He enjoyed the kick that the mayo gave the fish.
Lastly, it was time for the homemade cheesecake, which one customer remarked was “As good as my mother’s!” It is a compliment that I would find hard to disprove, as this cheesecake is creamy and topped with berries.
After dinner, we wandered into the outdoor dining area. There are a few tables scattered on the grounds as well as an area with Adirondack chairs and coffee tables – perfect for enjoying a signature cocktail or two. Sean and I opted to challenge each other at the ping-pong table, and Christine graciously brought us some waters to fuel the intense rivalry. Needless to say, I’ll be back for a rematch.
Banzai Burger, 2095 Montauk Highway, Amagansett. 631-267-3775, banzaiburger.com.
You can sample some of the best that Banzai Burger and Amagansett Sea Salt Co. have to offer at Dan’s Papers Taste of Two Forks on July 14, check out the many participating restaurants, wineries and food purveyors at www.tasteoftwoforks.com