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Eat & Drink

Feb 23, 2010 2:21 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Dining Out visits Sunwaters Grill

Editor's Note:

369 Dune Road, Hampton Bays
Open noon for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week
All major credit cards accepted
Reservations not required
Handicapped accessible

Feb 23, 2010 2:21 PM

Restaurateur Bob Soleau is in a unique position. Not only does he own Sunwaters Grill, which overlooks Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays, but he also runs the adjacent commercial fishing dock. That means that many of his dishes come straight off the boat, according to Mr. Soleau and his staff.

Mr. Soleau, a fisherman by trade who now serves as the head chef at the restaurant, opened Sunwaters with his wife, Donna, in the summer of 2001. The couple keep the restaurant open seven days a week, year-round, closing only on Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mr. Soleau said. He said that this kind of year-round hospitality has helped the restaurant amass a tight-knit local following.

“It’s just that it’s a friendly place,” Mr. Soleau said. “Everybody knows everybody. It’s a small town.”

While the menu features a few steak and chicken dishes, seafood is the predominant theme at the dockside grill. Because so much of the fish comes direct from the dock next door, the menu is constantly changing, Mr. Soleau explained. But there are a few staples that keep people coming back.

One of them is the year-round twin lobster special every Monday and Tuesday, which consists of two 1¼-pound lobsters served with butter, fresh vegetables and potatoes, for $24.95. That special lasts all day.

“That’s very popular,” Mr. Soleau said. “We do a big job with those.”

Throughout the rest of the week, the twin lobster dinner costs $39.95. Diners can also order a single steamed lobster, the size and price of which varies according to the market. The current price is $28.95.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat fried fish fillet special for $9.95 per person. Codfish, haddock and yellowtail flounder are some year-round favorites, Mr. Soleau said. This time of year, tile fish is popular with diners as well.

And on Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant offers a prime rib special for $16.95.

Happy hour at the bar runs from 4 to 7 on Friday nights, with two-for-one drinks and a complimentary buffet.

“We draw a big crowd for that,” Mr. Soleau said.

The regular entrées are also a big draw, Mr. Soleau said. For $20.95, Sunwater’s offers a flaky haddock fillet topped with Florentine sauce and served with spinach. Then there’s the “Medley of the Sea,” a bed of linguini topped with shrimp, clams, scallops, mussels and calamari, served in a spicy marinara sauce, for $25.95. And for $20.95, diners can enjoy flounder fillets filled with crabmeat stuffing and topped with the restaurant’s signature sauce.

The regulars love the crispy flounder, according to head waitress Bobbie Schneider: sautéed flounder fillets coated with chopped almonds and Japanese panco bread crumbs, priced at $20.95.

“Crispy flounder’s a local favorite,” she said.

The restaurant also offers a selection of broiled seafood dishes. The most popular is the “Seafood Lover’s Sampler,” according to Ms. Schneider. That dish consists of broiled scallops, shrimp, flounder fillet and a stuffed scallop served with lemon butter, for $25.95.

All dinners come with a choice of three side dishes: french fries, a baked potato or seasoned rice pilaf.

Like everything on the menu that isn’t shrimp, beef or chicken, the clams in the Sunwaters appetizers and entrées are harvested in local waters, Mr. Soleau said. The restaurant offers an appetizer of either six or a dozen clams on the half shell, which come at $7.95 and $14.95 respectively, and another appetizer of a dozen steamed top neck clams for $16.95.

“We use only Shinnecock Bay and Peconic Bay clams, year-round,” Mr. Soleau said.

And, for a break from seafood, there’s the chicken marsala for $19.95. Sandwiches range from $7.95 for a hamburger to $12.95 for a fresh tuna salad sandwich.

There’s also a variety of lighter fare. Salads range from $5.75 for a house salad to $15.95 for a fresh tuna salad plate. As for clam chowders, Manhattan is $5.75 and New England is 20 cents more.

Bartender Mike Klein said that restaurant patrons come for the atmosphere and the seaside vistas.

“It’s a casual restaurant and it’s an absolutely spectacular view,” he said. “And you don’t have to pay for it. Every window, you see water.”

Ms. Schneider said that the restaurant aims to deliver a low-key, quality dining experience.

“People love it here,” she said. “It’s all our locals.”

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Bobbi Schneider is a great friendly server... she really cares about her clients.
By Spencer (3), Hampton Bays on Feb 25, 10 4:48 PM
Actually, Bobbie is without a doubt the best server on the East End. Always friendly, always alert, always thoughtful. And it's a big plus that Sunwaters' food is great!
By SusieD (112), Southampton on Feb 25, 10 8:52 PM
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