Mystery “sauces” should not be a mystery

A lit Yahrtzeit candle, a candle that is lit o...
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I just came back from dinner with my kids at a local beachfront restaurant. The Saltwater Grill aka the “restaurant at Dune Deck” in Westhampton Beach is this seasons restaurant. The restaurant space that occupies the oceanfront “upscale motel”, has changed theme, cuisine, management and/or ownership almost every summer. It seems that they just cant get it right.

The location is gorgeous. Oceanfront on Dune Road with drop dead gorgeous “beach and reserve views” from the huge outdoor dining terrace. There was a live band playing mellow background hits from the 60-70’s. Individual canopied tables with matching blue and white nautical stripe cushions benches were neatly lined up and filled with the freshly tanned. There was a very large percentage of children which is always a welcome sight when I have my two young boys in tow. I wanted to like the place. I wanted to love the place. Did I mention that it was walking distance from my house? Finally a dream come true –  good food, ocean views, live music, kid friendly and within walking distance to my house???! 

As much as I wanted to love the place, I am afraid that my dream did not come true this summer.

The service, while lovely looking was young, inexperienced and clearly overwhelmed. In their defense it was very busy. After four straight days of rain, it was finally a clear night with the full moon shining bright in the cloudless sky. Every table was occupied and there was a growing crowd at the front bar. The kitchen was backed up and they were just not prepared for the onslaught of the rain weary cooped-up customers looking for a last hurrah in the Hamptons as their end of the season rentals come to an end.

The food took forever to arrive. When it finally was served, I took one bite of my bun-less burger and spit it right out in my napkin. What the heck was in this burger? It was so dark at our table that even though there was a  hurricane lamp on my table, I still could not make out what exactly was on my plate. 

I hate it when restaurants try to mimic “ambiance” and only illuminate their dining rooms with soft candles and 15 watt bulbs. 

Dont get me wrong, I like a little atmosphere as much as the next person. I am well aware that everyone looks better and skinnier by candlelight. What I object to is when the light is so low, you need to pick up the lone burning candle to your face, risking bodily harm, in order to make out the elaborate script on the menus. What I object to is when you accidentally drop your purse on the floor and then have to fumble and grope around the floor like a blind contortionist looking for it. What I object to is light so low, you can’t figure out what the heck is on your plate.

I ordered the burger. Easy enough. There was a roundish looking thing sitting in the middle of the plate (burger?) with what looked like french fries and a pickle on the side. I asked for a cheese burger and yes there was some yellow stuff sitting on top of the round thing. However what I did not know was that there was some mystery sauce hiding under the cheese. When I asked my waiter to have my barely touched burger to be wrapped up,  he inquired if there was something wrong with the food. I asked him what the sauce was and he told me it was their “special steak sauce”. He also defensively followed his statement by adding that it was “written on the menu”. I did not bother explaining to my young friend that I could not see the menu becuase it was too damm dark out here!

I quickly put out the fire (not the candle) on this one as I assured him that it was ” no problem”. My kids were getting chilly sitting outside anyway and it was getting late. “My husband would be happy to eat it”, I offered with a smile.

OK, so maybe it was not the restaurants fault. It’s just that I am a burger purist. I like my burgers plain, just salt and pepper. Once in a while I will “go crazy” and order bacon and grilled onions on top of my patty but usually the most adventuress I get with my burgers is Cheddar or American cheese. I don’t like ketchup, nor mayo on my burger and I don’t understand pickle slices on the meat either. I like to know what I am tasting. I like to know what I am eating. Simply put, I like the taste of beef. I quickly paid the bill and came home….to eat.

I came home and boiled a bag of frozen edamame. I like to add a generous pouring of olive oil and a big heaping of salt to the boiling water. After cooking for just 2 -3 minutes, I like to sprinkle the “al dente” drained soybeans with salt. I then fried 2 eggs over-easy  accompanied by my newest discovery, pan-fried sliced cheese (fricos).

Having to follow a ” dinner-out” with a “dinner-in” is never a good thing but if the restaurant  just put the sauce on the side, this could have been avoided.

Chow for now!