My late August evening at Hampton Lady began, as seemed appropriate, with a Shinnecock Sunset. The summery concoction of tequila, pineapple juice and grenadine, served in a chilled hurricane glass, matched the color of the sky as pinkish orange clouds gradually disappeared behind Hampton Bays’ Ponquogue Bridge. Expecting something a little too sweet, I was pleasantly surprised—the grenadine and pineapple balanced each other out resulting in something that can only be described as refreshing and fun. Sitting inside, my fellow diner and I couldn’t have been any closer to the bay unless we were swimming in it. The back porch dining area has sliding glass doors that open up to a narrow deck and right below us—the lapping water. There’s a view of the wharf and the many fishing boats that dock at the marina.
Hampton Lady, I discovered, has a fishing boat that goes out every day, twice on Fridays and three times on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s open to anyone who wants to join and try to catch fluke, striped bass, sea bass, codfish, blackfish, flounder, bluefish, tuna and shark.
The menu even has a “cook your catch” option. So, despite many delicious-sounding menu options, it was not a hard decision when our waitress announced the catch of the day was big-eye tuna, prepared any way I’d like. Putting an order in for a blackened tuna steak, we went about trying the Fried Calamari, Buffalo style. The presentation was beautiful—golden-brown fried squid, not too big or too small, with three sauces for dipping—one super hot, one traditional marinara, and one blue-cheese dressing. Fellow diner commented: “If there’s one thing that could make calamari more addictive, it’s wing sauce.”
Next were our entrées—the catch du jour tuna steak and tilefish francese. The big-eye tuna was juicy, full of flavor, and had a wonderfully crispy blackened top and bottom. The yellow rice that it was served with was seasoned with herbs and paired well with the assortment of thinly sliced squash, zucchini and yellow peppers. The tilefish, gone in mere minutes, was served piping hot, and was “zesty, lemony, buttery” and of course had the savory warmth of white wine, making it well, an Italian interpretation of French. Fellow diner also noted that the tilefish provided a firm foundation for light breading and the sauce that makes it “francese.” We were both delighted with our choices. (It seems only right to order seafood at a place like this, but carnivores would be pleased to know that there’s a Marinated New York Sirloin Angus Burger on the menu and options for kids, too.)
The evening culminated with a completely indulgent slice of cheesecake—topped with whipped cream and lightly drizzled with raspberry syrup. There was a hint of mocha in the very tasty graham cracker crust and if you can get all the ingredients on your fork you’ve got the perfect bite.
You could easily come by after work, or after the beach, for a drink outside on the massive deck facing the dunes and ocean or inside, around the square-shaped bar where you can get Blue Point Summer Ale, Dogfish Head and Brooklyn, to mention a few, on tap. Dance to live music on the deck on weekends or enjoy specials like half-priced appetizers Mondays–Thursdays 5–7 p.m. and complimentary buffet and drink specials on Fridays 5–7 p.m. Happy Hour. Sunday brunch is from 11 a.m.–3 p.m., and of course the fishing trips aboard their 60-foot, 49-passenger boat are every single day of the week! Bait and tackle is included so all you need to bring is lunch.
Hampton Lady Beach Bar & Grill, 369 Dune Road, Hampton Bays. 631-728-5239, thehamptonlady.com