There’s something about pretty little restaurants in quaint little seafaring towns that always makes us a little nervous. We’ve all learned, through hard experience, to expect trouble at such places: anxiety-provoking slow service, bad fried seafood, and tourists with noisy children are par for the course. So instead of saying “what a delightful little spot,” we say “tourist trap” and move on. The imagined pleasure of sitting on some bright seaside patio, shaded by a colorful umbrella, blissfully sipping a cool drink, awaiting the arrival of a delicious meal—we learn to banish such thoughts as just a pipe dream.
That is, until we’ve experienced the Dockside Bar & Grill. Ideally situated across from the marina in Sag Harbor, the Dockside has the charming outdoor seating, the water views, the pleasure boats bobbing in the water, but, most importantly, it’s comfortable and relaxing so that you can enjoy all of those things. And, if you time it right, you can have a delicious, leisurely dinner while watching the sun set over Sag Harbor.
That’s what my companions and I did on a recent, busy late-summer evening, seated not down on the patio, which was full, but just behind and above, where our view of the boats was even better. Dockside’s popular bar was buzzing to our left, but the sound was not intrusive. From the list of specialty cocktails, the female member of our party ordered the Coconut Knockout, which later she praised as being “like a coconut kiss.” I was tempted by the Forrest’s Gin Cooler, but went with a dry gin martini, which arrived cold and crisp. The young man we brought along had a ginger beer.
The Dockside has a rather extensive dinner menu, naturally including lots of fresh seafood options and local produce, but with additional sandwich, taco and burger options, reflecting their goal of being family friendly. (Indeed, there were many tables with children on the night we went, and there’s an adjacent patio in case the little ones get restless.) Alongside Mexican and Asian inspired dishes, there are also many menu items marked with a symbol indicating that they are healthier selections, and these include several vegan options. On top of this, our waiter, Daniel, pointed out that the Dockside offers whole steamed lobsters with local corn, one of the few East End restaurants to do so. (Don’t worry—they shell the lobster for you.) It also should be noted that the Dockside serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
So many options can make it hard to choose, but we eventually settled on some appetizers and entrées. For starters, we ordered the lobster and avocado spring rolls, crispy and luscious and served already cut up and ready to dip in the spicy sauce. We also got the crab-stuffed squash blossoms, local squash blossoms from Dale and Bette’s Farm stuffed with a crab and cheese mixture. These were light and savory, and yet rich and satisfying, served with a sweet, spicy dip. A bowl of the Mexican corn chowder was piping hot and packed tons of flavor.
One at our table is vegan, and was obviously pleased to have several options to choose from for a main course. He decided on the portobello mushroom tataki, a vegan variation of the menu’s Asian-inflected steak tataki, and served with steak fries. The young man pronounced it good. We also ordered the mushroom chilies rellenos, which come stuffed with spinach and goat cheese and are served with fried plantains and a chipotle sauce, a tasty authentic touch. From the specials menu we chose the flounder in parchment, a melt-in-your-mouth filet of flounder steamed in paper with tomatoes, capers and herbs. From a wine list studded with many local vintages, including some from Wölffer Estate and Channing Daughters, our waiter Daniel suggested a Vouvray and a Runnymede Sauvignon Blanc, selections that complemented our food very nicely.
So, as the sun went down, there we were, peaceful and serene in a beautiful spot. The only thing left to make it perfect was a little dessert. Luckily for us, Daniel was soon on the way with a Chocolate-Caramel Torte and a Chocolate-Kahlua Cake, both delicious.
Dockside Bar & Grill, 26 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, 631-725-7100, docksidesagharbor.com.