When it comes to the ideal summer meal, especially in the Hamptons, there are a few vital ingredients that need to be in the mix. First, the setting needs to be stunning, including a slight sliver of al fresco dining space. Obviously the food needs to be good; a light mix of local fare with unexpected flourishes of flavor and a handful of indulgent side dishes. And finally, the wine and liquor selection needs to meet (or hopefully exceed) expectations. Other details such as the crowd and the possibility to actually get a reservation are just added bonuses.
Turns out, Wölffer Kitchen, the latest addition to the dining scene in Sag Harbor, hits the mark on all those points. The space, located on the village’s main drag, has a rustic-yet-airy feel, punctuated by stunning racks of wine bottles and a floral mural wall, which was inspired by their Summer in a Bottle rosé.
Wine is a strong focal point of the restaurant, which should come as no surprise. Wölffer Vineyard, which was founded in 1987, is a name associated with the liquid gold that fuels almost every cocktail event, dinner party and impromptu boozefest out East. Their rosé has also been dubbed the “Gatorade of the Hamptons.”
“It was important that the restaurant reflect the winemaking process,” explained Joey Wölffer, co-owner of the restaurant and daughter of the vineyard’s late founder, Christian Wölffer. “We wanted materials used to make wine to figure prominently in the space—wood, glass, cork and steel. The objective was to suggest aspects of a sleek, urban wine bar, but also evoke the vineyard and stables of Wölffer Estate.” Ms. Wölffer founded the space with her brother, Marc, and the duo hired the local firm Martin Architects to handle the décor.
In addition to no-fuss glasses of wine, the Kitchen has also created whimsical cocktails from their spirits, each of which has a summery kick. Ms. Wölffer’s favorite is the Rosé Shrub, featuring black grapes that have been soaked overnight. I prefer the Raspberry Mint Cucumber Sangria, which highlighted the vineyard’s classic white wine, which was delightfully crisp instead of being sticky and sugary, like most sangrias.
As for the food? Both Ms. Wölffer and I agree that the grilled scallops with tarragon citrus butter, baby spinach and toasted quinoa is the most quintessential Hamptons dish. Created by Chef Deena Chafetz, it’s light, a little sweet and unbelievably fresh. When I stopped by this Saturday, the Kitchen also had a crab cake special that was definitely more memorable than the Cured Salmon appetizer.
For those weekend warriors who adore rosé, or wine of any sort, this restaurant is definitely one to visit before Labor Day. If not for the spirits, then at least for the Mediterranean-inspired décor and fare.
And for anyone worried about the annual rosé shortage that tends to plague the East End towards the end of August, there’s no need to fret. “This summer we released our first wine, Finca Wolffer Rosé, from Marc’s vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina. By bringing our iconic dry style of rosé to Argentina, we can increase production without having to choose quantity over quality,” Ms. Wölffer reassured the Observer. So please, pop open another bottle.