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Eat & Drink

American fare with an Irish flair at Buckley's

Publication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press
By Jessica DiNapoli   Mar 31, 2009 1:34 PM

The owners of Buckley’s Inn Between in Hampton Bays, Jim Cantwell and Mark Shortall, believe that few things make a better night out than fresh, bubbling beer and juicy hamburgers.

And at their restaurant on Montauk Highway, an Irish pub that serves up “American fare with an Irish flair,” hungry passersby will find both items on the menu for reasonable prices, Mr. Shortall said in a recent interview.

In fact, Mr. Cantwell and Mr. Shortall—who both moved to the U.S. from Ireland in the 1980s and speak with an unmistakable Irish brogue—recommend the Guinness and the Conor Burger as the outstanding beer-and-burger pick on the menu.

With a price of $6.50, “We have the best pint of Guinness draft on the East End,” Mr. Shortall said.

Now a resident of Hampton Bays, Mr. Shortall is originally from Dublin, the capital of Ireland. His school rugby jersey is framed and hanging on the wall at Buckley’s Inn Between, doubling as a keepsake from his home country and an artful piece of Irish decor.

The Buckley’s Guinness draft goes down so smoothly, Mr. Cantwell said, because the bar staff keeps the lines that run from the kegs to the tap clean. Mr. Cantwell, who now calls Hampton Bays home, like his partner, is originally from Kilkenny, a city of about 25,000. The pure volume of Guinness sold at Buckley’s also helps keep the tap clean, Mr. Cantwell added.

“If it sits there, it goes bad,” he said of the renowned Irish stout.

Perhaps one reason for the volume of Guinness drawn from the tap is the Buckley’s challenge: Anyone who downs 100 pints over any period of time gets his or her name on a personal plaque mounted above the bar. Both Mr. Cantwell and Mr. Shortall have achieved that honor.

For the burger half of the combination, Mr. Cantwell and Mr. Shortall recommend the Conor, one of 12 burgers offered at the bar. The Conor is an 8-ounce, char-grilled hamburger topped with crunchy bacon, soft sauteed onion, mushrooms and melted cheddar cheese.

“It’s a three-napkin burger,” Mr. Cantwell said.

The Conor is also the most expensive of the 12 burgers on the menu, at a cost of $9.50. The beef used is ground daily at Catena’s Food Market in Southampton, which Mr. Cantwell offers as the reason for all the hamburgers’ fresh taste. Other burger choices include: the Bridget, with sautéed mushrooms; the Malachi, with peppers, onions, and a mustard sauce; and the Seamus, with lettuce, tomato and a raw onion, all priced at $8.95

For those who prefer choices other than red meat, the restaurant offers burgers made from fish, turkey, chicken and vegetables. The Kinsale is essentially a flounder sandwich with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce; and the Eileen is a turkey burger topped with melted marinara and mozzarella—both cost $8.95. For veggie lovers, the Lily is a veggie burger smothered in cheddar cheese and salsa.

Buckley’s Inn Between is the third iteration of two other Buckley’s on the East End. There was a Buckley’s on Montauk Highway in Center Moriches, open from 2000 until it burnt down in 2005, and there was one in Southampton Village. Mr. Cantwell opened the Southampton Village Buckley’s in 1986, and sold the business in 2007.

Mr. Cantwell said he chose Hampton Bays as the location for the third Buckley’s in 2003 because he loves the community spirit in Southampton Town’s most populated hamlet.

“There’s more of a year-round clientele here,” Mr. Cantwell said.

Both partners see Buckley’s as a hub for the Hampton Bays community. The restaurant opens its doors to many fund-raisers, such as the benefit for Hampton Bays native Brendan Smith, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in August.

“We’re always amazed at the turnout,” Mr. Shortall said about the community’s willingness to donate to a good cause. “We always have charity in mind; it’s part of being a member of the community. We wouldn’t turn away anyone looking for help.”

The Buckley’s menu features a number of dinner options other than hamburgers as well. Diners can order the shepherd’s pie, oven-baked beef and vegetables with a brown gravy and mashed potatoes, $12.95; corned beef and cabbage with red potatoes and soda bread, $15.95; or a traditional Irish mixed grill featuring a pork chop with Irish black and white pudding, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato and baked beans, $18.95.

Paul Fitzpatrick is the head chef at Buckley’s Inn Between, Mr. Cantwell said.

These Irish foods—along with some Italian dishes offered on the menu—can be enjoyed in an Irish atmosphere established by various accents in the decor. Mr. Shortall’s rugby jersey hangs in one corner, curtains of Irish lace adorn the windows, and the heraldic shields representing Ireland’s four provinces are painted on the wall above some of the booths in the restaurant.

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