Bell & Anchor, the fish-focused restaurant tucked away on Noyac Road, inspires nostalgia. Consider the decadent lobster thermador, toothsome salt cod brandade, the Barney Greengrass-esque lox, eggs and onions on Sundays, the sorts of dishes our grandparents ate. The lobster garganelli—a riff on the popular “lobster pasta” served at sister restaurant Beacon—even bears the modifier “old-school” in its name. But in an era of global locavorism, this restaurant, owned by David Loewenberg and chef Sam McClelland, is no slave to tradition. The “PB&O” is a contemporary, Long Island-take on a Korean staple, bossam, updated with fresh-made kimchi, Peconic Bay oysters and pork belly. “We bring a new-age twist to old favorites,” says Loewenberg, who also owns Beacon in Sag Harbor with McClelland, as well as Red Bar and Little Red in Southampton and Fresno in East Hampton. “What we try to do is never rewrite anything.”
This winter, that careful marriage of tradition and innovation will take a new form, with lobster feasts on Wednesdays and prime rib on Thursdays, “nods to yesteryear” when family restaurants packed the house with weekly offerings of luxurious ingredients. And two pieces of ultramodern machinery will fuel these nights: a Vulcan C24 single deck steamer with 5-shelf capacity (the workhorse behind the copious claws and tails the restaurant dishes out in summer) and a gleaming Alto-Shaam 767 series “Slow Cook and Hold Smoker Oven” that “cooks and roasts different joints of meat to a specific temperature and holds it.” It’s where Bell & Anchor cooks its porchettas, lamb chops, guava baby back ribs and now its prime rib. “It’s an incredibly fun cut that not a lot of people are doing these days,” says Loewenberg. “It’s an old-style dish, and there’s nothing better than perfectly rare prime ribs.”
So what does this mean for prospective diners? As an add-on to the nightly prix fixe, a three-course meal with a 1.5-pound lobster—with succotash and potatoes—can be had for $39, positioning Bell & Anchor as a midweek date night favorite. This time of year also includes Sunday brunch with $5 Bloody Marys, mimosas, Salty Dogs, Ruby Ritas or glasses of local wine and beer on tap (hello, technology again).
Bell & Anchor has just celebrated its two-season anniversary, as winding Noyac Road has blossomed into a stretch with many food options, from mainstay butcher Cromer’s Market and veggie and poultry grower North Sea Farms to coffee and ice-cream go-to Jimmy Jim’s. And Bell & Anchor has sites even beyond Noyac, including a couple of Northeast cities and a protean takeout business. “It’s definitely a duplicatable space.” But for now, the focus will remain local, says Loewenberg, who admits being influenced by chefs who came through “the flamboyance of the ’80s to settle in the simplicity of today. Let us cook a perfect joint of meat.”
Brian Halweil is the editor of Edible East End.