What does a life without restaurants look like? As it turns out, it is bleak — but it’s not nearly as bleak as we thought. On the East End, we have been met with an onslaught of city visitors, many of whom are here for the long haul. The close proximity of people living in New York, it seems, is unappealing in a national crisis. And so, although the unofficial crowning of Season 2020 begins not now, in March, but in two months hence, in May, we have started the seasonal rush. Bring on the people. Bring on the traffic. August is here, like it or not. Settle in. It’s gonna be a long one.
With restaurants closed and stores buckling from the assault of basic human need, creativity was necessary to offset necessity. Out here, we’re hungry, and that’s the oldest, truest human story. What are we going to eat? When are we going to eat it? Who is going to feed it to us? Colin Ambrose, of Sag Harbor’s Estia’s Little Kitchen, has devised one temporary remedy to our current dining-less situation. He’s going to keep us full, at least some of the time. And we should all be thankful for his efforts.
Estia’s is a breakfast-y, lunch-y joint, known for its generous atmosphere, its inspired Mexican-ish cuisine, and its dedication to local ingredients. When he isn’t in the kitchen, or roaming the dining room and chatting with customers and friends, Ambrose is likely fishing somewhere out west, since fishing is his other passion.
But today — or, these days, as it stands — he’s here, on the East End, slinging migas and burritos, in a drive-thru operation that he has concocted to keep hungry people fed — but at a distance. His operation is currently “Estia’s Hot Burrito,” and it will run from 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Orders must be placed by phone — 631-725-1045. Patrons can provide their credit cards to streamline the process.
There will be specials, too, like Muggsy’s Migas, house-grown cornbread French toast with salsa verde, avocado, and a poached egg, for $20; a California turkey burger on an English muffin with Monterey Jack cheese and avocado, for $17; roasted duck tacos on corn tortillas with sofrito, avocado, and sour cream, for $20; red chili posole, for $8.50; and a vegan burrito with beans and avocado salsa, for $18.
The one thing that is bound to grow old — and quickly — as we become newly intimate with our own homes is cooking, day in and day out. And while there is some untapped joy in spending time in our own kitchens, there is also untold joy in having food delivered right to us, a joy no longer deliverable by the experience of dining. That singular thing has been stripped from us, maybe, for an indeterminate period of time, but we are fortunate, in that our mighty cooks and restaurateurs have made it their mission to continue to feed us, by truck and by delivery, by takeout and by force of nature.
As we find our footing in this new — hopefully impermanent — condition, we can find new rituals, too. Maybe make Ambrose’s Saturday and Sunday hot burrito drive-thru, a luxury that was never before available, because there was never before a need for it, part of your new routine. It may be hard to see a bright side in all of this, but if we can draw such a conclusion, let it be that, sometimes, a terrible situation opens the door for something small and lovely to emerge. In this case, Estia’s Hot Burritos is that small, lovely thing.