East End Eats: Only a Bronze for Silver’s

Lunch at dinner prices
Silver’s, around since 1923, is as popular as ever. Morgan McGivern

Silver’s
15 Main Street
Southampton
283-6443
Lunch daily, closed Wednesday

    Silver’s is an attractive restaurant in Southampton that has been open since 1923. It is very popular and only serves lunch. Lunch at dinner prices.
    I had a pretty good meal there a few weeks ago and a mediocre one more recently.
    A long railroad of a building, with high ceilings and black and white checkered floors, it has a long bar, quite a few paintings on the walls, and bistro chairs. Upon being seated you get a bowl with warm, crusty bread with a pool of garlicky, salty olive oil sprinkled with parsley. It is delicious.
    On our last visit we began our meal with the borscht and d’Anjou pear salad. The borscht, served hot, was excellent and full of beets, beetroots, and beet greens. The broth had excellent flavor. It would have been even better if it had been served with the traditional dollop of sour cream. The d’Anjou pear salad was a large bowl of baby arugula with tomato slices, grapes, pecans, two huge wedges of Stilton, some sliced pear, and no dressing. There appeared to be a little drizzle of olive oil on the arugula and a wedge of lemon was perched on the bowl, so maybe it was a do-it-yourself salad dressing? I didn’t care for the lemon-Stilton combo.
    For entrees we tried the BLT and crab cakes. Silver’s is famous for its BLTs. The menu crows about them: “not what you make at home!” You’re right about that! “It’s awesome!” No, it’s not. The BLT is two enormously thick slices of bread, easily one and a half inches thick with a few leaves of romaine, even thinner slices of bacon, and some slices of tomato. The bread has attractive grill marks on it, but my son detected a slightly gassy flavor from the grill that detracted from the overall enjoyment of his bready sandwich.
    The crab cakes were two mounds of crab mixture, more like ice cream scoops, on top of salad. They were chock full of jumbo lump crabmeat with flecks of diced red pepper and parsley. The sauce was a mild mixture of mayonnaise and Thai sweet chili sauce. They tasted just a little bit too fishy. I only took a few bites.
    Prices at Silver’s are $14 to $48 for soups and salads, entrees are $20 to $40, desserts are $8 and $9. The $48 price tag is for lobster salad, the $40 entree is a lobster roll. The service was spotty. We kind of had one waiter to begin with; he forgot a glass of wine. Another picked up our plates. A nice waitress gave us dessert menus. No one inquired as to why the crab cakes had barely been touched.
    Along with “not what you make at home!” and “it’s awesome!” the menu has other boastful proclamations. The French picnic platter is “like dining in Paris without paying airfare!” Yeah, that’s because you can’t afford to fly to Paris after dining here. The smoked salmon, “terrific!” The desserts, “classically Parisian” and “very sophisticated!” Not.
    There are some very pretty paintings on the walls, mostly of women in various poses such as “I just finished practicing my ballet positions and now I am filled with ennui” and “I am feeling very melancholy in this cafe because my lover just left me. Desole!” Or perhaps: “How am I going to pay for that ridiculously expensive sandwich?”
    The bathrooms are down a staircase. The men’s room had no soap, only a recycled bottle labeled hand sanitizer. There are some freezers downstairs next to the bathroom. Well, this is a public place, so I took a peek at the contents? They were sloppily filled with bread rolls and cheap, industrial-sized cases of bacon. Hmmmmm.
    Silver’s Web site begins with “If you divide your time between reading Marcel Proust and indulging yourself at Bergdorf Goodman you’re going to love Silver’s, which you may have overheard is the only place to lunch in the Hamptons” and “if Oscar Wilde summered in the Hamptons, you’d probably find him here.” No, we’d probably find him across the street at St. Ambroeus or Cittanuova or Rowdy Hall or La Parmagiana or jail in Riverhead.
    The desserts are not made in-house. We tried three of them, the pecan tart, lemon tart, and opera cake. The pecan tart was stale and soggy and tasted of refrigeration. The lemon tart was soggy and cracked from age. The opera cake was okay.
    If I had stumbled upon Silver’s and the prices were half of what they are, I would probably think, not bad. At these prices, I am crestfallen.
    Our lunch was $140 for two before tip, with just one glass of wine. This is a short review, why should I waste your time? Silver’s, you get a bronze.