Forty five minutes. That’s all it takes to be transported from Southampton into another world. Forty five minutes west? You’re upisland, somewhere on the side of Sunrise, marveling at how wide the highway gets out there. Forty five minutes east and you’re “On Montauk Time…”
Every East Ender knows the story—almost 100 years ago, Carl Fisher bought virtually all of Montauk with a vision of developing it into “The Miami Beach of the North.” Though he infamously went bankrupt in the 1929 crash, Fisher’s notion of imbuing The End with the quixotic vibe made famous by Miami Beach in the South remains. Especially at Gurney’s Inn Resort & Spa, which oozes comfort, class and—above all—relaxation.
The classy, homey atmosphere likely comes from the fact that Gurney’s is family-owned, with important touches like an entire line of freshly made desserts and cute olive oil bottles with “Gurney’s Inn” painted on them.
My dad and I arrived at Gurney’s on a particularly chilly Monday evening. A cursory glace at the Inn’s Facebook page that morning revealed that we had just missed the baseball Opening Day happy hour. I can have baseball and beer; or experience fine dining and wine? I’ll be back to take advantage of the former, but tonight was about enjoying Gurney’s Italian-inspired Sea Grille and the newly introduced weekly dining specials. Our server Victor Monte explained the nuances of keeping the Inn fresh and relevant, while honoring the traditions that have made the establishment iconic. To that point, Mondays are Meatless Mondays until Memorial Day weekend, and we were more than happy to indulge in the day’s menu.
As the Sea Grille space was under renovation at the moment—note that it’s since opened—we took a seat in the revamped Caffe Monte (now serving breakfast and lunch). The tables are strategically placed to take advantage of Gurney’s beautiful vistas, with tables on the ocean-side of the restaurant turned to afford at least two guests at the four-top the gorgeous view. Those facing away from the water could see the ocean reflected in mirrors above the tables in the back.
We started our meal off with a glass of local wine. Gurney’s boasts ample Long Island selections, along with global varieties from other established regions and a full bar. Though our stay on Montauk Time lasted well over two hours, it would be fueled by just that one libation, as the simple, beachy atmosphere was our preferred antidote to the workweek.
The Meatless Monday menu includes Gurney’s Clam Chowder, a roasted beat salad, and your choice of entrée: a seafood bouillabaisse or meatless meatballs. Of course, the entire Sea Grille menu, with its fresh seafood and plethora of vegan, vegetarian and macrobiotic options, is also available daily. “It’s health through food,” Victor said of the menu items that fulfilled the East Hampton-based Wellness Challenge program.
We began with Manhattan Clam Chowder, and in between ordering and arrival, I realized that I had never had the Manhattan version before, always opting for its cream-based cousin. Gurney’s has set the bar high. The soup was light, with lots of bite-sized clams and veggies that whet the palate for the rest of the meal.
Though I’m not a picky eater, earlier that week I had scoffed at a Runner’s World article mentioning beets as spring’s super food. Images of The Office with Dwight and his beet farm notwithstanding, the roasted beet salad perfectly paired the beets with goat cheese and frisée; the combination of flavors satisfying my taste for a healthy, unique salad.
But the piece de resistance was the Meatless Meatballs, which were made with quinoa and lentils and served with whole wheat pasta and Gurney’s famous Italian sauce. The meatballs are incredibly filling, but at the same time, also light. I never missed the meat and, as a bonus, quinoa is high in protein and low in cholesterol and fat. Yum!
Not waking up in the middle of the night with an intense thirst for water is the hallmark of a truly great meal. I went to work Tuesday refreshed from both sleep and the mental benefits of spending an evening on Montauk time.
Gurney’s daily specials include weekend brunch, Sunday pasta nights, Prime Rib Wednesdays, Prix Fixes and kid’s menus. Visit the website for additional information. 290 Old Montauk Highway, Montauk. 631-668-2345 gurneysinn.com