Most of us have been to the Driver’s Seat numerous times. In the summer, it’s ideal for frozen drinks out on the back deck on the way home from Coopers Beach. In the winter, it’s all about a burger and a beer and catching the game from the cozy bar inside. Throughout the year, it’s an easy go-to for lunch or dinner to break up your Southampton Village shopping expedition.
Eager to sample their new menu, a few of us from the Dan’s Papers editorial department left the office on a busy Monday to enjoy lunch out at the Driver’s Seat.
We were seated at a comfortable window booth in the airy and spacious back room, with views of both the outdoor patio, the front bar area and the side alleyway where we could people-watch those going in and out of the new Dash boutique. We took note of who came out with a shopping bag. Well, that was until our appetizers arrived, at which point our attention was diverted to a plate of chicken wings and clam casserole.
When our gracious waitress Corinne came by, Shop ’Til You Drop columnist Stephanie de Troy momentarily thought of ordering an iced tea, but quickly changed that to a piña colada. After all, she thought, how often does one get to do this on a Monday? It was refreshing and, being a little on the filling side, paired well with her Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad. The salad comes in an enormous portion—enough to share if you order appetizers. Three goat cheese roundels in a toasted-walnut crust sat atop fresh baby field greens sprinkled with golden raisins, candied walnuts and slices of sweet mandarin oranges. If you like sweet, this is the salad for you.
Our Hamptons Epicure columnist Stacy Dermont enjoyed some Buffalo wings dipped in bleu cheese dressing to start. They were not too aggressively hot but true to their Buffalo roots. (Stacy knows Buffalo, New York, cuisine intimately.) Her piña colada helped cool things down…completely. Stacy moved on to the Eggplant Caprese Tower of delightfully crispy eggplant sticks over layers of fresh mozzarella and ripe, red tomato, which was surrounded by a bed of arugula and drizzled with a sweet-meets-savory balsamic glaze. She quite enjoyed it. She also sampled the rich fish tacos before she had most of them wrapped up to take back to “Husband.” Do mix the black beans into the roasted pineapple and hot, crispy fried fish!
Though not initially inclined to have a liquid lunch, the offer of a Frozen Coconut Mojito was too tempting to pass up for Keep Fit columnist Kelly Laffey. Real coconut was blended with mint to make this classic warm-weather concoction that Corrine noted was the restaurant’s most popular drink last summer. Kelly has long been a fan of the Driver’s Seat for the burgers, and quickly decided that the rainy weekday called for a classic turkey burger—organic ground turkey topped with bean sprouts, avocado and caramelized onions. She added pepper jack cheese to give it a little kick. The burger was exactly what she was hoping for, juicy and sporting plenty of healthy avocados. Portions are substantial, and Kelly was sadly unable to finish the burger due to earlier indulgence in the clam casserole and the wings. However, she noted for future dining that the Buffalo sauce/ranch dressing combo could have easily paired with a beer and the Stanley Cup Finals.
PopHampton columnist Lee Meyer—who was very excited to watch from the window as passers-by walked in and out of the Dash store—fell instantly in love with the Baked Clam Casserole. The Dan’s Papers Best of the Best-winning dish was salty and moist. “It’s like a giant baked clam!” Lee exclaimed to the group. The crusty, lightly seasoned casserole was made even more flavorful by a little lemon. Having never been to the Driver’s Seat before, Lee opted for a classic cheeseburger and fries, which didn’t disappoint. The burger, with melted American cheese, was cooked perfectly medium-well, and the fries were crispy and lacked an ingredient that usually turns Lee off: grease. Lee also enjoyed (maybe a little too much) a strawberry daiquiri and nearly fell over in ecstasy from the amazing pecan pie, baked fresh on-premises.
The Driver’s Seat Restaurant is located at 62 Jobs Lane in Southampton. 631-283-6606, thedriversseatrestaurant.com.