East End Eats: Can't Keep Quiet About the Clam
Quiet Clam 2.0
100 Montauk Highway
Lunch and dinner daily
The Il Mulinos, le Bilboquets, Eleven Madison Parks, and Le Charlots are slowly seeping into the local restaurant landscape. They feed the tribes that feel most comfortable dining in the exact same restaurants, whether on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or the East End of Long Island. And yet, and yet, something old is new again on the restaurant scene.
Quiet Clam 2.0 has opened on Montauk Highway in East Hampton, where long ago there was . . . the Quiet Clam. The Quiet Clam of yore was family-friendly, reasonable, and charming. It’s baaaaaack.
To go into the history of this restaurant location would be a dreadful bore. Let’s just say that for a long time it was Nichol’s, popular for beer and burgers and goblets of cheap wine, Winston’s, blink, it’s gone, then Service Station, blink, gone too. Issues of the building not being up to code, and illegal use of the outdoor patio for dining are part of it. Let’s just say that when it comes to local politics and restaurateurs, how adroitly their weathervanes spin.
Quiet Clam 2.0 has some remnants of the last two incarnations. Gone are the Anglophile tchotchkes of Nichol’s, but the clean black and white paint job of the Service Station remains. There’s not much new in the way of decor, just a shark on the wall and an advertisement for Land Shark beer. Each table has a fresh herb plant on it, which is a nice touch.
The menu at Quiet Clam 2.0 has some familiar items from the Service Station, thankfully, and is also reminiscent of the East Hampton Grill, because the chef, Matthew Chapelle, worked at both.
At the time of our visit, Quiet Clam 2.0 was still without a liquor license, so it was B.Y.O.B. It was also a weeknight. Even though the place had only been open three weeks, it was quite busy.
I am delighted to report that everything was delicious, all six of my friends said they’d go back again, and it was very reasonable.
We began our meal with Caesar salad, mussels, grilled artichokes, and chicken livers(!). The Caesar was excellent. Whole romaine leaves were lightly dressed with a lemony vinaigrette, and there was a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top. It also had some cherry tomato halves and hardboiled eggs on the side, and some fresh shaved white corn kernels. The mussels were big and plump, served in a tasty, salty broth and garnished with grilled slices of bread. The grilled artichokes (reminiscent of East Hampton Grill) were buttery and smoky, served with a good lemon aioli. (My only suggestion would be to give guests Wet-Naps after they’ve dug into this tasty mess.)
When is the last time you saw chicken livers on a menu? If you love them, you will love these. Four big ones were served in a rich sauce with lardons and lots of thyme. The same grilled bread was on top, perfect for dipping.
For entrees we tried the mushroom pizza, fish tacos, “Bomb.com” (fried chicken sandwich), a burger, clams and linguine, grilled salmon, and sesame-crusted tuna. All were very good, some excellent. The pizza was tasty with lots of mushrooms, some goat cheese, and not too much truffle oil. The fish tacos were made with cod and had a slightly sweet slaw, served on soft flour tortillas with a chimichurri aioli.
The Bomb.com was a huge hit. As a matter of fact, my guests who ordered it had already been there a few nights before and wanted it again. If you remember Lee Roy’s Southern fried chicken sandwich from the Service Station, this is it. It is perfectly crisped, served with a kale slaw, tomato, mayo, cheddar, and bacon. Hubba hubba!
The burger was a good classic burger, cooked as ordered, and served on a brioche bun with excellent fries. The clams and linguine had good flavor, and the linguine was cooked perfectly al dente, but it just needed a bit more briny broth. The grilled salmon was cooked as ordered, and came with grilled asparagus, grape tomatoes, and some basil butter on top of a cauliflower puree. The seared tuna was also good, served with noodles and lots of vegetables like shredded carrots, bok choy, and red peppers.
Our waitress was adorable and knew the menu well because she has worked there through several incarnations. The prices at Quiet Clam 2.0 are very reasonable. Starters and salads are $11 to $17, entrees are $16 to $30, pastas and pizza are $15 to $28, the children selections are $10 to $14, sides are $5 to $12, and desserts are $10 to $12.
Some desserts are made in-house; some are purchased. A few were sold out on the night of our visit, so we tried only three: the rainbow cake surprise, berry panna cotta, and a brownie sundae. The rainbow cake was hilarious and good. The electric magenta, agent orange, screaming yellow, emerald green, and purply purple layers of cake had a pretty good buttercream frosting and the whole shebang was sprinkled with pink and purple sugar crystals, those little wafer hearts that taste like Communion wafers, and a big blob of whipped cream. A fun dessert. The panna cotta was not very good, simply because too much gelatin was used. It was borderline chewy, instead of silky and barely-held-together, as it should be. The strawberry sauce on it was good, though. The brownie sundae was perfectly fine, topped with nuts, ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream.
Our dinner at Quiet Clam 2.0 was a wonderful experience. What’s old is new again, welcome back!