Holding court over Southampton’s Main Street at the corner of Nugent, The Golden Pear has become synonymous with the East End, offering hungry beachgoers, or those just in need of a cup of joe, a taste of the Hamptons.
Serving freshly made sandwiches, baked goods, coffee and hot food, owner Keith Davis has revealed that not much has changed at The Golden Pear since he opened the first Southampton location in 1987, citing an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. The attitude is well deserved, as the hoards of people hovering around the coffee counter during peak morning and afternoon rush hours consistently prove. Though summer is clearly the Pear’s busiest season, Davis’s cafes are open year-round, one of the few village mainstays that doesn’t take a hiatus at mid-week during the winter. Building on the success of the Southampton location, Davis opened more storefronts—East Hampton in 1991, Bridgehampton in 1996 and Sag Harbor in 2006.
One thing that will change, however, is The Golden Pear’s hours come summer. Though the café has always stayed open later during the high season, this year The Golder Pear will extend its hours further and offer dinner. A special dinner menu will be available, including items like lobster bisque, clam chowder, grilled fish, roasted chicken and the dessert bar. Davis anticipates that the dinner service will appeal to parents on the go, people needing a quick meal after the beach or, as the summer concert season heats up, families heading to Agawam Park for the evening.
A change to the menu has been the increasing number of gluten free options available. The move highlights that The Golden Pear has always been a health-conscious café, with vegetarian selections also on offer.
I’ve been frequenting the Southampton Pear since I was young, lured by the smell of baked goods on my evening runs. (The scent of pastries is enough to make me stop mid-stride, yet it can also serve as motivation to continue so that I may indulge the next day at breakfast.)
For this visit, I entered The Golden Pear’s Southampton café on a relatively quiet Thursday afternoon. Davis immediately greeted me, along with a throng of other customers. A Golden Pear regular, I was happy to indulge in a sampling of lunch options. My go-to staples include The Bridgehampton sandwich, which is a uniquely prepared citrus (no mayo) veggie tuna salad, the No. 1 panini with turkey and brie and the vegetarian chili.
I started off with tastes from the hot lunch bar, and first on tap were three of the soups of the day—the Texas turkey chili, the vegetarian chili and the chicken soup. Made with a medley of vegetables, including carrots and peppers and a number of beans, the vegetarian chili remains my favorite of the bunch, and it packed a spicy punch with its combination of chili powder and sweetened curry powder. The chicken soup was made with pulled chicken, which allowed easy eating.
My next taste was of the Southwest mac ‘n’ cheese. Though I wouldn’t categorize The Golden Pear as a Mexican-inspired café, it offers a lot for spicy-food lovers. The mac ‘n’ cheese is reminiscent of a home-cooked meal, the perfect comfort food. I also sampled the curry chicken salad, which is made with a combination of specially ordered spices not found anywhere else on the East End, and grapes for a nice contrast.
I then tried the No. 3 panini. I was immediately enticed by the avocado, and the spicy chipotle dressing added a kick to the warm panini. The Golden Pear’s bread is delivered fresh daily from New York City-based bakers Orwashers and Aladdin Bakery. The No. 3 panini is crafted from Wine Tosca bread, which is made with North Fork chardonnay. I highly recommend picking up a sandwich to enjoy while scouting around Long Island Wine Country.
For dessert, a chocolate brownie. The melt-in-your-mouth flavor is the perfect midday cap, with just the right amount of caffeine to get me back to work…
The Golden Pear Southampton, 99 Main Street. goldenpear.com. Check the website for specials. 631-283-8900