July 30, 2001 | Ask Gael
What's this about a price war in the Hamptons?
Reality strikes. Some of the greediest restaurants in the Goldhamptons are bending low to woo penny-pinchers and the affluent wounded. At least mercilessly expensive Pacific East runs its $19.99 early-bird discount all night Thursdays. Don't expect to see the price-cut menu till you ask, of course. So eat some humble pie to get Prince Edward Island mussels in a kicky coconut red-curry broth, and deliciously caramelized lamb shank on garlic mashed potatoes or the cautiously crumbed Moroccan salmon. And rice-pudding fans will swoon over the haunting sticky rice goo in a coconut shell. Lurid sunsets over a tranquil marina that could be somewhere in small-town America draw crowds to their no-reservation fate at otherwise friendly Beacon, where the prices are gentler to start. The two-course $22 prix fixe offers soup or salad and the entrée of the day. Tonight: a rich puddle of creamy chowder with smoked shrimp or iceberg wedges and poached tomatoes in Roquefort dressing, and then roast chicken. Twelve minutes to get a Bloody Mary? It's amateur night at Lure at the Independent, where the $23 menu is a secret unless you know to ask. Tonight we have a choice of sprightly gazpacho with smoked shrimp or the lackluster Caesar. And one of three entrées. No substitutes, please. One day the chef may learn to spare the soy and to sear tuna rare but not cool. The salmon isn't so thrilling, either, but boneless organic chicken is fine and all the adornments -- summer-corn succotash, smashed Bliss potatoes, baked Yukon Golds -- are appealing. Granted, we're tough to please. And the portions are huge -- including three generous scoops of sorbet or ice cream. I'm figuring the same deal à la carte could run $47. How can they afford to do it? I ask the waitress. "Beats me," she says.
Pacific East 415 Main Street, Amagansett, 631 267 7770
Beacon 8 West Water Street, Sag Harbor, 631 725 7088
Lure at the Independent 2468 Main Street, Bridgehampton, 631 537 5110