August 25, 2019 | BITE: My Journal
Watch for the Silver Lining
Before turning left onto the Montauk Highway, consider stopping to eat at the new Silver Lining.
How many times have we stopped at the red light with the Princess Diner directly ahead and turned left onto the Montauk Highway in our usual Hampton crawl? No one ever said, “I’m hungry. Let’s grab a bite here.” But now it’s the Silver Lining Diner, bright with egg yolk-yellow banquettes and a pink neon glow on the wall behind the counter.
Architect Jeffrey Beers designed the bright, light interior with its egg yolk yellow banquettes.
A quintet of partners – including the Miller brothers, and M.T. Carney and husband Richard Silver, the owners of Bay Kitchen Bar in Easthampton – joined forces here. The design is by architect Jeffrey Beers. And the place is full.
Chef-Partner Eric Miller with his wife Cathy and their son Adam.
It’s a diner but more than a diner. The menu is a smart collection of yellow and white cardboard, each stapled and labeled – drinks, brunch, lunch, dinner and desserts. “We are here to make your day brighter!” the cover says. “Everything we make is fresh, local, organic when possible, and always made with love.” A little corny, agreed. But forgiven, since lunch today is so good.
Classic scrambled egg sandwich with American cheese and bacon and a side of crispy, crusty home fries.
Nobody ordered pancakes. They simply appeared, buttermilk hot cakes topped with slices of banana.
It’s early for “Drinks, Naughty and Nice.” But my pal Howard will have a craft beer. Fran sips a generous pour of sauvignon blanc. The house sends out “just squeezed” orange juice as a gift, a welcome jolt of vitamin C. Fran will have the classic scrambled egg with bacon and American cheese on a roll with super crusty caramelized home fries. Nobody ordered buttermilk hot cakes with sliced bananas. They just appear.
I ordered a fresh fruit bowl, local fruits I would expect.
Miller’s spicy BBQ chili with braised Angus short ribs and triangles of chipotle corn bread.
I offer to share the toss of berries, honeydew melon and pineapple in my fruit bowl. From “Lunch is a Thing of Beauty: Homemade soups and yummy things,” I order Miller’s BBQ chili with braised Angus short ribs and chipotle cornbread. There is a pouf of guacamole and sour cream, like a flower riding on top.
House smoked BBQ Baby Back ribs, meaty and sticky, are delivered with a side of apple vinegar slaw.
Here's our good-natured waiter. Silver Lining opened late in the season and cast a wide net for staff.
Bow-tie pasta layered with cheddar, gruyère, parmesan and Monterey Jack cheese topped with panko crumbs.
The wedge salad, my usual, is not as good as it was at Ed’s Lobster Bar on my first day of driving around with local friends for lunch. But that’s a small diss. The sticky BBQ baby back ribs, house-smoked with chopped fruit on top and apple vinegar slaw alongside, are meaty and good. Lil Till’s mac and cheese -- bow tie pasta in a melt of Grafton, cheddar, gruyere, parmesan, and Monterey Jack, topped with crispy panko bread crumbs – is a standout of delicious excess.
The kitchen sends out a collection of desserts. The crumb cake is my favorite.
We all vote to skip dessert, but it’s too late. Sweets sent by the house are already on the way: double chocolate blackout cake with mocha fudge sauce, blueberry fruit pie with crumble, vanilla and chocolate swirl soft serve, and just in case we prefer hard-serve, a scoop of classic ice cream.
The very young waiter at the next table caught the eye of our friends with the camera.
Silver Lining Diner. 32 Montauk Highway, Southampton. 631 901 1800. Open every day 7 am to midnight..
Lunch with the Transplanted Locals
We would often stop at Bostwicks on the highway for lunch.
Twenty years ago my friends gave up their townhouse on the Upper East Side and decided to live in Easthampton full-time. In the next few years, I spent many afternoons in their blue guest bedroom writing my memoir: Insatiable: Tales from a Life of Delicious Excess. My friends work till 2 pm every day and then get into their car to drive somewhere for lunch. It can be somewhere close by – like Bostwick’s on the Highway, or some faraway fish shack in Montauk.
Often on weekends we take the car ferry and cross to Shelter Island, or two ferries to North Fork.
When I come to visit, I join them. Sometimes we take two ferries across the Sound and have lunch in Greenport. Or we might set up our own picnic table and have sandwiches from the truck behind North Fork Table and Inn. I hadn’t been out to the Hamptons for two years when I checked in this past weekend, so they had several discoveries they wanted to show me.
We park in front of Marie Eiffel and go in to see what she’s serving for lunch – it’s takeout or eat in.
We get off the first ferry on Shelter Island and drive to Commander Cody’s Seafood. The owner comes out to tell us he’s cooking for a big party this evening and he is closed for lunch. “So sad, we wanted our friend to taste your wonderful cooking.” He is not to be seduced. So off we speed, up and down winding rounds and curves, finally pulling up to a collection of shops. I follow Fran into Marie Eiffel Market.
Marie Eiffel does catering too.
“I’ll have my usual curry chicken salad sandwich on a roll,” Fran says to Howard and then disappears out the back door. I study the glass display case. Everything looks good. “I have to have the fried chicken,” I say to Howard. “With the fries. Don’t those fries look great? And I must have a bowl of corn. Shouldn’t we get a lobster roll too?”
I was surprised when the woman behind the counter announced that she recognized me from New York.
The woman behind the counter looks right at me. “I know who you are,” she says. “I know you from reading New York magazine. You should taste our bread too.”
The market offers a collection of cheeses and long, crusty baguettes.
The crusty baguettes look unusually good for a country market in…I don’t know where exactly. “Let’s buy a baguette or two. One for me to take home. One for you two.” I suggest to Howard. “And maybe a muffin and some Danish pastry too.”
A waiter delivers our lunch to the bleached wooden table on the deck overlooking the water and the marina.
I leave Howard to collect our goodies and follow Fran outside. She is sipping iced tea at a bare wooden table on the porch facing the water and the marina. A collection of odd tables and mismatching chairs hold nine or ten other diners. Nobody looks like they belong to anyone else.
Marie poses with a tray of goodies.
Marie has our lunch brought out on red trays. Fran has borrowed a book, “Working Journal,” by Michael J. Fiedler, that tells how Marie was in a catastrophic accident and miraculously survived. It is hard to imagine that this vibrant, flirtatious woman had once come so close to death.
“Is everything okay?” she asks.
“Everything is very good,” I assure her.
“Would you like to taste my bouillabaisse?” she wants to know.
“Yes, of course,” I say.
I recommend Marie’s spicy bouillabaisse full of seafood, with its sides of rouille, crouton, and grated cheese.
She returns with a bowl of soup – bright with the flavors of fennel and pastis, shrimp and chunks of fish afloat. A swath of rouille and a nest of grated cheese come on a separate plate. I mix everything in and taste. “It’s so good,” I say.
“You like it? You like my bouillabaisse?” she cries, eyes wide, and then bursts into tears. I am touched by her emotion.
Maria Eiffel 184 N. Ferry Road on Shelter Island.631 749 0003 Open Monday to Saturday days, 7 am to 6 pm. Sunday 7 am to 5 pm.
Ed's Lobster Bar East Nick & Toni's Harbor Market and Kitchen