When I met my husband, he lived in a small house on Harry’s Lane in Sag Harbor, which is part of a 1960s-era waterfront community. The majority of the homes there have not been renovated. There is a year-round population that is small (though growing larger), that finds commiseration in the fact that almost no restaurants deliver to this area of Noyac. Better find your favorite nearby haunt, and find it fast.
That’s how I stumbled upon all that is good and great and amazing at Bell & Anchor, David Loewenberg’s waterfront outpost, a low-ceilinged, intimate space that is at once cozy and stunning (panoramic windows at the restaurant’s rear look out onto the Mill Creek Marina, offering a particularly compelling sunset). There are a lot of great things to say about Bell & Anchor, which has held court in Sag Harbor since 2012, and most of them are food related.
Consider the brilliance, in the Hamptons, of a pre-6:30 PM prix-fixe menu on a weeknight or weekend (excepting holidays), a choice of two courses for $30, or three for $35. And what of Lobster Night on Wednesdays, an homage to crustaceans amplified by a choice of three lobster entrees, all of which are under $50? Choose between the lobster garganelli with corn, basil, and saffron cream; the steamed one-and-a-half-pound lobster with haricots verts and fingerling potatoes; or the butter-poached lobster tail with a whole filet mignon. Go ahead, I dare you! Choose!
There is Bouillabaisse Night on Thursdays ($35 for stew, along with an appetizer and dessert), and Pork Milanese Night on Tuesdays ($35 for the pork, an appetizer, and — you guessed it — dessert), both brilliant ways to get clientele in the door on slower evenings, especially during the offseason. But the best special the restaurant runs is on Sundays, and you probably already know about it. Sunday is Oyster Night.
From my husband’s old rental on Harry’s Lane, I could walk down the road (treacherous blind curve notwithstanding) and be at the Bell & Anchor bar in five minutes flat. Before I had children, or the near-permanent exhaustion that accompanies having children, I was a regular fixture at that bar. The fact that it served great food was an added bonus. The fact that it served $1 oysters on Sundays? Well, that, dear friends, was a challenge.
The oysters that Bell & Anchor proudly delivers on Sundays — every Sunday, irrespective of season or holiday weekend — are the small, robust, and saline Montauk pearls. They’re local. They’re briny without overpowering the palate. They pair perfectly with Champagne (for as long as I can remember, the restaurant has served the grower Champagne, Paul Laurent, by the glass for $16, which is, by Hamptons standards, actually free), but you don’t need Champagne to enjoy them.
One night, my husband and I undertook a challenge. How many oysters could two hungry, bivalve-loving adults really eat, if put to the test? Could we break a restaurant record, and simultaneously avoid contracting Vibrio?
The answer may surprise you. It surprised Loewenberg, who confirmed that we had, in fact, broken a restaurant record. We ate 96.
I tell this story not as a cautionary tale, nor as a lead-by-example moment. I tell it because it’s a testament to the restaurant’s faith in humanity. Despite the gluttons at the bar, they kept on shucking. However miraculously, they did not run out of oysters. And a week later, we were welcomed back into the fold of the restaurant with open arms.
It’s a special kind of place that makes you feel at home while still catering to the demands of an oyster-slurping summer crowd. A special kind of place, indeed.
Visit www.bellandanchor.com to learn more.