East End Eats: At the Corner

Brews, burgers, and a panoramic view of downtown Sag Harbor are some of the highlights of a meal at the Corner Bar. Morgan McGivern

    How can you not love a place called the Corner Bar that has an address of 1 Main Street? So American, so Americana. Throw in a primo view of passing citizens, the windmill, and Long Wharf and you’ve got Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper all wrapped up into one cool bar.
    The Corner Bar is charming and cheap, cozy and lively all at the same time. That is what I had to remind myself of when we went out for our review: It is a bar, not a restaurant.
    Upon entering there is a dining room to the right, a bar to the left, and tables around the windows looking out onto the corner of Main Street and Bay Street, or Route 114. There is wood paneling, lots of fish prints on the walls, and even more flat-screen TVs.
    We began our meal with clams on the half shell, clams casino, and Caesar salad. The clams on the half shell were excellent, greatly enhanced by the very horseradishy cocktail sauce. The clams casino were good, but a bit odd. They were served swimming in a dish of garlic oil, with melted cheese on top and some slices of Texas toast to sop up the sauce. The Caesar salad was very good and big. The dressing was just right, lemony and with plenty of Parmesan cheese.
    For entrees we had the beer-battered shrimp, fish and chips, cheeseburger with onion rings, the broiled flounder, and baked flounder. All entrees come with a salad and vegetables. The side salads were very good, a mixture of mesclun, carrots, cherry tomatoes, red onion rings, and cucumber slices.
    The beer-battered shrimp weren’t very good. They were huge, made even huger by the massive quantity of fried batter matter on them. “The bar food version of the elephant man,” remarked the witty wag who ordered them, as he peeled the layers off the shrimp. The same fate befell the fish and chips. The pieces of cod were encased in the same shell, which another guest peeled off of every one.
    The cheeseburger was excellent. And everyone should already know this is the way to go at the Corner Bar. It is eight ounces of high quality chuck, perfectly seasoned and served with very good french fries. The broiled flounder was good, too, and easily dolled up with a squeeze of fresh lemon and salt and pepper. The baked flounder was a bit more interesting, with a coating of horseradish sauce. We got a side order of sweet potato fries, which were delicious.
    We all noted that the broccoli and cooked carrots served along with each platter were very good, fresh, and cooked just enough.
The Corner Bar
1 Main Street
Sag Harbor

Lunch and dinner daily
    The Corner Bar was very busy on the night of our visit, a lot of fellas with ponytails and patriotic hats at the bar, and happy groups at every table. It is worth noting that the prices at the bar are very reasonable. There are excellent beers on tap (Stella Artois at $6 per pint). You can get a martini for $8, and a glass of wine for $6.50.
    “The night would have been more lively if the Jets had showed up!” cried another clever guest in our group. Sheesh, we were a regular Algonquin round table that night at the Corner Bar. Bons mots were flying through the air faster than the mozzarella sticks at a neighboring table.
    I am sorry to report that the service on the night of our visit was perfunctory and indifferent. Our waitress had to be asked to remove empty glasses and the dirty plates piling up around us. Utensils weren’t replaced, and questions about the salad dressings and desserts seemed to be a big nuisance. Again, I had to remind myself that this is a bar, not a restaurant. But don’t despair, we did spy another busy waitress who was moving briskly and efficiently and had a smile for all of her customers.
    Prices at the Corner Bar are $7 to $13.50 for appetizers, $4.95 to $13.95 for soups and salads, $8.50 to $11.95 for burgers and sandwiches, $13.95 to $23.95 for entrees, and $6 for desserts.
    The desserts come from the Holey Moses Cheesecake company. We tried the chocolate mousse pie and Key lime pie. Both were served with that artificial squirt whipped cream that begins to collapse and weep as soon as it hits the plate. The chocolate mousse cake was okay. The Oreo-type cookie crust was good but the mousse filling lacked chocolatey flavor. The Key lime pie, however, was very good, tart and tangy and fresh tasting.
    We all liked the Corner Bar very much. It is a fun and lively spot with an egalitarian clientele. For practically 34 years it has occupied this central location in the heart of charming Sag Harbor. If you stick with the classics like clams and Caesar salad, the great burgers and brews, you will have a fine time, too.