My husband and I live in Sag Harbor so we’ve been tempted by the smell of wood smoke emanating from Lulu Kitchen for several months now. Executive chef Phillipe Corbet and his team use a wood-burning oven to give most of their menu items that char that can only come from burning, spitting, smoking wood. A full bar surrounds this open kitchen—so Lulu Kitchen was an immediate hit.
I think we arrived during happy hour because everyone near the bar seemed quite happy. They’d reconfigured the seating somewhat, like they were playing train car. Some happy people were also eating at the bar, playing dining car. There were several young families dining there that night too, seated at tables. They were not playing train games, but they did avail themselves of the handy stroller valet service.
At the reception desk there’s a big bowl of what looks like books of matches on offer—they’re actually tiny note pads, in case you need to take down a bunch of your new friends’ phone numbers the old-fashioned way.
It seems like there’s a higher-than-usual ratio of staff to patrons here—higher than a top prep school’s faculty-to-students, in fact. The members of the staff are immediately evident as they’re dressed in tones of chambray and denim. Patrons tend toward more color and fewer aprons.
There’s open-air seating at the front and back, which gives the whole place a breezy feel. We settled into a tufted leather banquette opposite the kitchen.
Our server Robert arrived with crusty bread and EVOO immediately. Husband ordered a glass of Grüner Veltliner as we perused the wine list. I was still recovering from a very strong mocktail I’d been given at a health store opening that morning, so I decided to stay off the real stuff, just to be safe. (Beware all chunky beverages!) The wine list includes local favorites Channing Daughters Winery, Macari Vineyards, Paumanok Vineyards and Wölffer Estate Vineyard.
Every night of the week offers a dinner special. Wednesday is all-you-can-eat mussels. The couple at the table next to ours accepted the challenge with diligence and much slurping. The male half had a palooka voice and kept shouting about “summer in a bottle!” I think they were enjoying their vacation.
We decided to order from the well-edited menu. Montauk’s fruits of the sea figure prominently in the offerings. It’s great to see a newcomer sourcing locally. Wood-fired pizza was a natural choice and the soup of the day was a fish medley that tempted, but ultimately we decided on surf and turf collectively—Crab Spread and Seafood Gigli Pasta for me, Grilled Montauk Squid Salad and a Skirt Steak for Husband.
Robert suggested a glass of merlot to accompany the steak. He had Husband at “suggest.”
My Crab Spread—in addition to crab, of course—contained a rich mix of chopped asparagus, avocado, smoked salmon, lemon zest, sour cream and wasabi, topped with tobiko (flying fish roe) in a cute jar. Served with grilled farm bread, this was almost a meal in itself, since I didn’t share very much. It was kind of like a lobster roll that had grown up.
My Seafood Gigli Pasta was a delight. This generous bowl of pasta was beautifully presented, as the guy at the next table commented. The pasta was tender and dripping with the richness of clams, shrimp, mussels, crab and butter. Arugula pesto and bottarga added nice bass notes. These frilly pasta cones always put me in mind of sea life—in this dish it all comes together.
Husband said the squid in his Grilled Montauk Squid Salad was cooked just right—that it was “very smoky” but that “the sweetness of the squid comes through.” A fine match for pea shoots and a grilled lemon half. He happily detected sesame oil in the ginger citrus vinaigrette.
Husband’s steak was also cooked just as he ordered it—medium—and it was accompanied by small, whole roasted tomatoes, grilled romaine lettuce and (way too many) house fries (for a person who’s watching his weight). These brown, twisty fries are SO GOOD when they’re piping hot from the fryer. You’ve been warned. The meat was, according to Husband, “almost fork-tender.” I have to take his word for that—it looked luscious, while it lasted. The chimichurri sauce also looked good and was reported to be “delicious.”
We were tempted by the cheese plate—specifically by the apple truffle jam—but instead ordered a Tropical Sundae to share. Scoops of passion fruit, melon and an outstanding toasted coconut sorbet over very crumbled shortbread, garnished with fresh blueberries and raspberries, hit the spot.
You can sample some of Lulu Kitchen & Bar’s executive chef Phillipe Corbet’s fine work for yourself at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks on July 22, along with offerings from a host of other top New York and Hamptons restaurants and wineries.