East End Eats: Moby’s Lands at Spring Close

Moby’s is a pop-up restaurant where the Spring Close House was many years ago
Moby’s backyard and patio are fun places for families and groups to connect. Morgan McGivern

341 Pantigo Road
East Hampton
Dinner nightly

I never Google a restaurant before I review it. I like to approach it with a fresh, albeit gimlet, eye. Our first impression upon arriving at Moby’s was the unfortunate amount of trash in the parking lot and leading up to the front door. Secondly, there were the able-limbed young couple who hogged the handicapped parking space in front, sideways no less. Okay, I guess that does make them handicapped.

Moby’s is a pop-up restaurant where the Spring Close House was many years ago. This space has also been the Farmhouse, some kind of piggy-named place, and the Laundry. It is a tricky location because it is fairly huge. Sometimes we refer to such places as Indian burial grounds, sacred spots where no white man’s business will ever succeed. Enter two attractive Aussies with several other restaurants and pop-ups under their belts and you have Moby’s, a somewhat nautically themed establishment. Maybe not “somewhat nautically themed.” It’s very nautical, with vintage charts on the walls, roping everywhere, buoys on the tables, boat scraps, and a lifeguard chair out back. You’ve entered Melville territory, maties, aaaargh! Well, actually, that would be Sag Harbor . . . details, details.

Upon entering you face the L-shaped bar and get a good view of the wood-burning oven. To the left is one dining room, beyond that a private room, and in the middle of it all, a small courtyard with another dining table and a huge tree growing through it. Walk towards the back and there are more tables, many family-style seating arrangements. Straight back is a huge patio with picnic tables and a lawn with many amusements for children who don’t care to sit still. There is a swing, the aforementioned lifeguard chair, and fireflies galore.

The decor is mostly black and white and the interior dining rooms have director’s chairs, cute but fairly uncomfortable. One guest noticed a clock on the wall, the time stopped at 4:20. Ha ha, I know what that means. These guys are hep cats!

The menu is very short and rather expensive. We began our meal with tuna crudo, octopus, and heirloom tomatoes. The tuna crudo was excellent. It was five thin slices of tuna on top of a mild avocado puree, topped with plenty of lemon juice, chili oil, flaky salt, and cilantro embryos. The octopus was also excellent, perfectly tenderized, then charred. It was served with a dollop of mild hummus, a few bright green and tasty Castelvetrano olives, and lots of chopped parsley. The heirloom tomato salad was pretty straightforward, a variety of sliced sweet Sungolds, one or two purple fellas, and a few other tomato slices not quite at their peak.

For entrees we ordered the roast half chicken, whole black sea bass, and one of the pizzas. The roasted chicken itself was well executed, with a nicely crisped skin and seasoned just right, but would have benefited from a bit of chicken jus. It was on a bed of wilted baby spinach with a few slices of zucchini and squash, which made for a somewhat watery plate. The spinach is billed as wild on the menu, but these bland, evenly shaped leaves had “Fresh Express, a division of Chi­quita Brands” flavor and appearance all over them.

The whole black sea bass was extremely small for $39 but t was tasty. It was served with about six shishito peppers and a piece of lemon. The lemon is on the menu as “charred lemon,” but I don’t think you need to list garnishes on the plate just because there’s nothing else served with it. It was at this point we noticed that there is no bread offered, and no rice or potatoes whatsoever. It’s nice to have the option of a carbohydrate.

The pizza, sadly, was not very good. The beauty of having a wood-burning oven is to achieve that blistering char, or at the very least, crispness on a crust. This pizza was a bit undercooked and bland.

The service on the night of our visit was fine. Our waitress was very nice, however, our entrees were served rapidly, before our appetizer plates had been cleared. The server put them down anyway. He also helpfully told me I’d probably want my fork back so I could eat the next course.

When we arrived, Moby’s was mostly filled with young families, who were later replaced by lots of attractive and apparently wealthy youngsters. Prices for appetizers and “to-share” plates are $15 to $25, pizzas are $19, main courses are $30 to $39, sides are $8, desserts are $12. The cheapest bottle of wine is $60.

There are three desserts, but two of them are really more like assembled items, one a root beer float, the other affogato (espresso over ice cream.) So we only tried the blueberry parfait. It was layers of spongecake with vanilla pudding, Balsam Farm’s blueberries, and whipped cream in a Mason jar. I’m pretty sure the spongecake was commercially made, and the pudding may as well have been Kozy Shack. It was ice cold and just okay.

We enjoyed our visit to Moby’s and some of the dishes were delicious. The casual, open atmosphere is fun for families and millennials with moolah. But the prices don’t jibe with the quality for this Queequeg.