I am a simple girl with simple tastes. In summer, one need not deliver to me a buffet of exotic delicacies to ensure my happiness. It is neither truffle nor sea urchin that tickles my hot weather fancy. All I really need, when I get down to the brass tacks of it, is a cold, delicious drink, a view of a deep blue expanse, and somewhere to find relief from the heat.
If you thought food writers were all navel-gazers, you may have misjudged us. I, for one, prefer to gaze out at the sea.
You may or may not have visited SALT, Shelter Island’s waterfront restaurant boasting superlative views. This article is not technically about SALT. This article is about the adjacent bar and snack shack, where you can get takeout from SALT, plus a bevy of drinks. You can also swim in a pool, hear live music, sit on a grassy knoll overlooking bobbing boats, and take in a summer evening in the most magical way possible. It really doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. I wasn’t joking about that. My husband knew that when he married me, which is why he conceded on building a swimming pool. Add a pool — any pool — to a bar destination and you really have made my day.
The Shipwreck hinges around a 1930s-era vessel, a twin-mast boat anchored in the center of a cement pad that functions as bar, entertainment area, and music venue. Instead of a Pain Killer, the bar offers its own version, the Whale Killer: Cruzan rum, Coco Lopez, pineapple juice, a Sag Harbor dark rum floater, and a whiff of nutmeg. It goes down easy (a little too easy — hence the original drink’s famous name). When the heat fatigues you, head through the restrooms into the changing area and take a dip in the pool, where you can both hear the music and watch the boats dancing in the marina. This brand of relaxation doesn’t cost a penny.
The full SALT menu can be ordered through the bar. Servers deliver it in takeout containers to your table. Monday night is burger night ($10, a Shelter Island steal). On Tuesday evenings, The Shipwreck hosts Trivia Night at 7 PM. Live performances take place every Thursday through Sunday. The comprehensive menu includes everything from fresh sushi (veggie rolls, spicy tuna rolls, shrimp tempura rolls, spicy lobster rolls) to oysters on the half shell to sandwiches to shellfish to shareable entrees, like steak frites.
Do you have a boat? The Shipwreck is easier to get to by sea than by land. Call The Island Boatyard for docking instructions and pull up to a slip. (They can give you pricing and availability information over the phone. Just call 631-749-3333.) I can think of no finer way to bypass the Hamptons traffic this August.
Like so many good things out east, this particular good thing must come to an end eventually. The Shipwreck is a seasonal delight, though that probably comes as no surprise — there’s no shelter, really, save for a flimsy piece of fabric over part of the patio that provides a partial respite from the midday sun. Enjoy these last weeks of summer, then — and yes, accept it, August is already here, and with it, summer’s winding, wending, final days.
While the weather is still unacceptably hot — a reality we’ll fervently miss in the coming months — get yourself to The Shipwreck. Laze in the pool. Dawdle on the lawn. Drink a Whale Killer and ponder a second. If the sun slips into the water before you’ve had a chance to take stock of the day, know that you’ve done yourself proud. This is how summer is meant to be spent.