Gurney’s Beach Bar Brings the Ultimate Lobster Bake to Montauk

Photo courtesy of Gurney’s

If social distancing at a restaurant seems like an oxymoron, allow me to introduce you to the Beach Bar at Gurney’s, where space is as vast as the cerulean ocean backdrop. My children are small, and, even under normal circumstances, dinner out is a minefield, which has meant that dinner in a pandemic has been dinner at home—even as restaurants have cautiously reopened. But I accepted an invitation to eat on the beach recently, because the beach provides opportunity: my cooped-up kids could breathe sea-fresh air, run the length of the beach, and remain far from others, all while pretending that the world was kind of normal again.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, at 6:30, Gurneys’ once-raucous Beach Club becomes a BBQ Experience, where, for $75 ($25 for kids), guests can choose between two smoked meats (Korean BBQ short ribs, smoked prime brisket, buttermilk-fried chicken, apple cider-glazed smoked chicken, St. Louis pork ribs, and odds and ends) and two sides (smoked beans, pastrami bacon, Charleston slaw, house-made pickles, German potato salad, house-made caramelized onion Parker rolls, five-cheese mac ‘n cheese). Dinner ends with peach cobbler. Reservations are required and can be made online.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, also at 6:30, the Beach Club embraces the New England tradition of the lobster bake, for $95 per person ($25 for kids). Guests begin their meals with rosemary biscuits, served with honey and butter, followed by seafood chowder. Next arrives a steamed 1.5-pound lobster, alongside clams, mussels, corn, and Yukon gold potatoes. For dessert, each guest receives his or her own individual apple-rhubarb pie.

Meals are all served in disposable containers, and servers are masked. Tables are spaced amply, and there’s plenty of space to see the stunning view of the water, which, apart from that lobster, is the reason you’re here, after all. There are seats on the Beach Bar’s makeshift deck, as well as some on the sand; the Bar has converted some of its premium cabana seating into socially distant dining, with picnic tables that face the ocean, bedecked in checkered tablecloths fit for a New England tablescape. With the sea breeze rising off the water—an inimitable backdrop to dinner—this feels like the safest possible destination for dinner these days. So spread out and enjoy all that distance dining currently has to offer at Gurney’s, before August is no more than a whisper.