The Lobster Inn‘s sign is, for many of us one of the key landmarks, announcing the entrance to Southampton from the west. Just this morning a friend I was meeting texted me, “I’ll let you know when we pass The Lobster Inn,” in spite of the fact that it has been The Lobster Grille for over a year. Clearly, some habits are hard to break. This rustic-looking restaurant at the merge by the eastern end of Sunrise Highway, has welcomed visitors to the Hamptons for 40-plus years—thankfully, it has returned with a new name and new ownership.
For a while last year it seemed those regular trips for an order of “Splat,” was a habit we’d all have to break, but in stepped Tim Burke and executive chef Randy Reiss. And with a slight twist of a name and a sign, “The Lobster Grille” began its quest to continue offering family friendly, reasonably priced seafood and more.
As we entered The Lobster Grille my sister turned to me and said, “I think the last time I was here was when Mom moved to Southampton.” That was over 30 years ago, but the past and current owners must forgive her as most of that time was spent in Maryland. Having this perspective helped cement my initial feeling that those things we’ve all always loved about The Lobster Inn are still there with The Lobster Grille.
A cocktail before dinner? Sure. The Lobster Grille has one of my local favorites, a very large fishbowl of rum punch. Our waitress suggested we share but that seemed silly to me. Make sure you’re not driving if you start out with this fruity, multi-rum concoction.
A bowl of lobster bisque was shared around the table and all agreed it was good but perhaps a tad “briny,” although the lumps of lobster meat were most welcome. Randy’s Clams Casino were full clams (not chopped) and had a hearty bacon flavor. I found them well seasoned but preferred my crab cakes which were moist but not soggy, with plenty of crab. My sister’s Inn Chop Salad was to her liking and she declared that the juxtaposition of Gorgonzola and craisins worked well off the candied walnuts, making the salad crunchy, sweet and salty. For me the winner of the appetizer course was my husband’s nut-crusted brie. A dish that could easily double as dessert, it comes drizzled in caramel with some apple chutney and crostini. I only had one bite and am still regretting that foolish demonstration of will power.
If you always loved the specialty of the house, a combo of steamed lobster, steamers, hard clams, mussels, shrimp and red crab known as “Splat,” it’s still there—my husband was more than happy to give it a try. In between his enthusiastic dipping of the steamers in butter and cracking of the crab claw he managed to exclaim that his Splat was “delish” and tasted “really fresh.”
Of the entrees we ordered the very best was the Baked Lobster Tail and 14 oz. NY Strip Steak. Cooked exactly as requested (medium rare) mildly seasoned, juicy and everything you want from a NY Strip. The lobster tail, honored the history of this Lobster-named establishment. My entrée choice was the Combo Platter, offered fried or broiled (I went with fried) you get shrimp, flounder and scallops. The scallops were a tad mushy and not as flavorful as I’d have liked but the shrimp was excellent and there was so much crispy flounder I ended up having it as a sandwich the next day.
As the evenings get lighter and the weather warmer you can easily add the view and location of The Lobster Grille to the many reasons you’ll want to dine here. The surrounding waters of Cold Spring Pond provide an idyllic setting for an East End restaurant. As always The Lobster Grille is found “at the merge” on Sunrise Highway but you don’t have to arrive by car, early last fall during lunch I watched several guests arrive via boat to enjoy the waterfront dining. By land or sea The Lobster Grille is a local landmark with a rich history and a promising future.
The Lobster Grille, 162 Inlet Road, Southampton, 631-283-1525, lobstergrilleinn.com