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East End Eats: Vin Sur Vingt is Swoon-Worthy

Mon, 08/21/2023 - 15:36
Maddie McLean and Tim Howard enjoyed a recent dinner at Vin Sur Vingt in Sag Harbor while visiting the area.
Laura Donnelly

Vin Sur Vingt
29 Main Street
Sag Harbor
Sunday and Monday 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Wednesday through Saturday 11:30 a.m.-midnight

I dined at Vin Sur Vingt Bistro the other night with friends from abroad, and the experience was a delight from start to finish.

Vin Sur Vingt Bistro is located at 29 Main Street in Sag Harbor, a spot that has been a revolving door for restaurants of varying quality and cuisines for the past decade or so. I don't recall even setting foot in the last establishment, MTK Lobster House, so I can't say for sure what has changed decor-wise. It is definitely bistro style with smoky mirrors all around, pressed tin ceiling, black leather banquettes in the back, a long bar, and plain wooden tables with comfortable chairs. 

There are many wines by the glass, poured generously, and most are in the $16-to-$18 price range. You can even start the fun with a glass of sparkling wine for $17.

We began our meal with steak tartare, tarte flambé, and escargots.

The steak tartare was a generous portion of hand chopped beef filet with a quail egg in the middle and a little salad on the side of the plate. This was the only dish that didn't make us swoon, however, as it was a bit bland. There was no evidence of cornichons or capers or other salty savory bits to enhance the rich beef. 

The tarte flambé was delicious, a paper-thin crisp crust was topped with creme fraiche, lardons of bacon, and bits of onion. This style of topping is typical of the traditional Alsatian tart but at Vin Sur Vingt the tart also had slivers of zucchini and fresh corn kernels that added a sweet pop-crunch to it. 

The escargots were just as they should be, tender snails swimming in garlic-parsley butter in a scalding hot cast iron Staub ramekin. (You also get some good bread and butter at the beginning of your meal so we had plenty to sop up the hot garlic butter.) As I reached for the last snail, instead I got a star anise. We were all more amused than anything else when we pointed this out to our waitress, Oceane. She promptly brought us another order, sans star anise, and we had no problem gobbling this one up, too.

For entrees we ordered duck confit, croque monsieur, a special of bouillabaisse, and a side salad. The duck confit was excellent, very tender and flavorful. It had a salad of vinegary red cabbage, some fingerling potatoes, and a swoosh of concentrated demi-glace with a hint of sweetness to it, perhaps cherry essence. The croque monsieur was also very good: thick slices of white bread grilled with ham and Gruyere cheese, and topped with a rich bechamel. Not a super exciting choice for dinner but I thought it would be a good test and this one got an A.

The bouillabaisse special was, we all agreed, outstanding. The broth was seafood briny with a whisper of saffron and full of mussels, white fish, calamari, shrimp, scallops, and a half lobster on top with julienned vegetables. The dish came with the usual accompaniment of toasted baguette slices and some rouille, an aioli with garlic, saffron, and cayenne. I could eat rouille all day.

At this point in our meal, my guests Maddie and Tim remarked on how good the food was, how reasonable and creative the wine list is, and how Vin Sur Vingt is such a welcome change in Sag Harbor in the midst of all the "Goop Italian" restaurants surrounding us. Tim grew up here so he knows, and that was his clever description.

The prices at Vin Sur Vingt are reasonable. Now, before you disagree with me on this point, as people are wont to do nowadays, consider this: We live in a wealthy, seasonal resort community. Ergo, I am grading on a curve, just like our teachers occasionally had to do in grade school. This is not Hamtramck, Michigan, or upstate New York or Gambier, Ohio. This is "the Hamptons" and all that that obnoxious moniker entails.

Prices for charcuterie and cheese are $12 to $18, appetizers are $11 to $26, mains are $26 to $42, sides are $12, and desserts are $14.

Our waitress was a delight: professional, friendly and efficient, from chilling and decanting our wine to bringing another round of escargots.

For desserts we tried the chocolate mousse, tarte tatin, and creme brulée, all superb. The chocolate mousse, served in a generously sized parfait glass, was fluffy and dense at the same time, the bittersweet mousse topped with whipped cream. The tarte tatin was a little round mound of caramelized tart apples on a crisp pastry bottom with a quenelle of whipped cream on the side. The creme brulee was divine: creamy with plenty of vanilla and the bruléed sugar on top gave a nice little crack when tapped with a spoon.

There are five locations of Vin Sur Vingt in New York City and one in Washington, D.C. One of the chef/co-owners, Sebastien Auvet, describes his bistro/wine bars as "an opportunity to be simple but not shy, and share what I love."

The newest Vin Sur Vingt in Sag Harbor is jolly and fun, noisy yet cozy, unpretentious and modestly priced. We all agreed we will return soon.

Vin Sur Vingt
29 Main Street
Sag Harbor
Sunday and Monday 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Wednesday through Saturday 11:30 a.m.-midnight

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