Shelter Island businesses are gearing up for the summer of 2015 to make our lives more interesting, easier and hopefully, a whole lot tastier. The biz buzz this year is on the new and the revamping of some old favorites, as well as the addition of several professional service providers.
Eat, drink, sleep
The new owners of boutique hotel The Chequit have given the venerable Heights landmark a complete face lift, with the public areas, 21 guest rooms and suites refurbished in a style that former guests JFK and Marilyn Monroe would undoubtedly have enjoyed. Salt Hotels, the new proprietors, hope the Red Maple restaurant, as well as a coffee shop, will be on-stream sometime in June, but in the meantime, the bar and hydrangea-bordered patio are open for business. The hotel’s retail premises on Washington Avenue will soon be occupied by Wampum, a lifestyle shop out of Bridgehampton, which will carry Chequit-branded merchandise. Check out the new website thechequit.com for room views rates and reservations.
The hotel and restaurant on Stearns Point Road last known as La Maison Blanche, has also been sold and re-christened Shelter Island House. This winter, Keith Bavaro and Ali Bevilacqua of SALT ran a popular pop-up restaurant there, The Tavern, that found its niche with its emphasis on comfort food. According to Bavaro, Shelter Island House will be positioned as “an amazing seasonal restaurant” that will be constantly changing. For the summer, expect to see a “locovore” focus, with foods sourced not only from the East End, but New York State and the Berkshires. Call 749-1633 for hours and reservations.
At SALT, Ali and Keith have hired a sushi chef to supplement their popular menu items such as fish tacos and lobster rolls, and acoustic music will be playing seven days a week in the Shipwreck Bar. “From Memorial Day through Labor Day we’ll be open seven days a week, which we’ve never done before,” Bavaro said. Call 749-5535 for daily specials and reservations.
If you’re planning a late summer event or even a wedding, the Island Boatyard will be reopening its banquet space this season. “It’s been a long process,” said manager James Brantuck. “We were really delayed by Hurricane Sandy but are now on track for an opening late this summer.”
The view from Goat Hill has always been a draw but with the opening of Vue restaurant, the food should be as well. Partners Harry Brigham, Ian Weslek and Joe Piscatello are aiming to provide “classic American food” at family-friendly prices. “The plan from the beginning was to put together a family restaurant so people with children could eat out more than once a week,” said Brigham. “The partners have children and know what it costs to take five or six people out to eat.”
There is a Thursday lobster special, daily chef’s choices and, later on, “lighter lunch items for the beach crowd,” according to Brigham. Lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; closed Tuesday and Wednesday until late June. 749-5424.
Sweet Tomato’s on Grand Avenue has been an Island favorite for 13 years, but the 2015 season marks a new step in its life. Owners James and Mary Rando have brought in a new management team, including manager Adrien Angelvy, formerly from La Goulue in New York City, and Oscar Del Rosario, an alumni of Jean-Georges, as chef de cuisine.
With a newly renovated kitchen, there’s a revamped menu of traditional and seasonal Italian favorites, such as homemade pastas as well as the popular pizza, now available in the dining room, and a new wine list. 749-4114.
Star’s Cafe on Grand Avenue in the Heights is still one of the best places for breakfast or lunch, or anytime to take a break for delicious coffee and pastries. In a modern era where eateries all look the same, serving the same kind of food and drink, Stars retains the atmosphere of the old-sytle cafe, where good conversation flows along with first rate food and drink, inside or at tables on Grand Avenue. 749-5345.
The former home of the Roy Reeve Insurance Agency, which has moved to Mattituck, is in the process of becoming James Hull’s Shelter Island Craft Brewery. Hull will be brewing small batch beers on the premises, using “top-quality ingredients, some of which are grown here on Shelter Island,” including hops from Michael Clark and honey from the Brigham and Kilb families.
After he gets the requisite permits, Hull will be offering small scale tastings on the copper-topped bar and retail sales of three beers — Shelter Island Liquid Sunshine, 114 Minutes and Twin Forks Harvest Ale — as well as a rotating line of specialty brews. Watch for his grand opening in the next few weeks.
Marie Eiffel took over the premises known as Reddings three summers ago and kept the name as they made their mark on the popular Bridge Street spot. This year, however, she’s put her own signature firmly on the windows, re-naming it Marie Eiffel Market. In addition to the great selection of cheeses, homemade specials and baked goods that they’ve had in summers past, they now offer an expanded line of gluten-free products, including homemade granola, pastas and quiches, as well as more hot menu items, such as their signature sliced pork sandwich with barbecue sauce. The renovated interior is light, bright and airy and the tables on the back deck overlooking the harbor are a sublime place to enjoy a snack or a meal from 6 a.m. onward.
Across Bridge Street, The Dory welcomes Executive Chef Daniel Wajdik. According to owner Jack Kiffer, “Chef Danny” brings with him “a profound appreciation for food and a passion for creating mouth-watering dishes” and will be introducing a “vibrant and delicious menu of locally bought fresh seafood and vegetables” that can be enjoyed on the Dory’s waterfront dining deck. Lunch and dinner daily. 749-4300.