Sunset Beach is the epitome of the worst aspects of summer in the Hamptons, arrogant, obnoxious and devoid of even the minimum standard for service. And it isn’t even in the Hamptons. It’s in Shelter Island, so you have to make a special effort to be abused. Part of the Andre Balazs group of boutique hotels and restaurants which includes The Standard, The Mercer and Chateau Marmont, Sunset Beach has perfected the art of making its clientele feel insignificant. The main attraction of Sunset Beach is, as one might have guessed, its setting. Every few years the memory of my last flogging at the hands of their staff has faded sufficiently that I take a group of guests there for drinks and dinner while watching the sun set over Little Peconic Bay.
Last week, we decided to go on the Tuesday night after the holiday weekend to avoid the crowds. As the sun was scheduled to set at 8:30pm, we asked for a 7:30pm dinner reservation. The reservationist (whose principal qualification for the job was that she didn’t speak English) reacted with horror at our request and offered 6:00pm and 9:30pm, two times that would appear to belie the whole point of dining there. After a brief struggle, she conceded she had a space available (obviously hoping for someone more important than us) at 7pm. We arrived shortly before 7pm and were made to wait in the bar for an hour, while the bartender carefully avoided making eye contact. We finally made it to our table at 8pm and, at least, had the view that we came for. As we surveyed the menu, our discerning waiter recommended everything we asked about and answered ‘yes’ to every question. All of our food, both starters and main courses, was served at the same time. The manager was incredulous that we would find that objectionable and asked “what do you want me to do–take it back?” The food was average at best.
The sunset was beautiful. You can see the same sunset across the street at the beach, with a blanket, some beach chairs, a picnic and no reservations. Bon appetit!