The former Salivar’s, Montauk’s iconic, dockside eatery, reopened during the past week following an impressive renovation inside and out.
The people who gave us the West Lake Clam and Chowder House are running the place. They have brought their popular menu and sushi bar across the harbor to the green building (a lighter shade now) that began serving food and spirits during a time when raw fish, as the saying goes, was bait.
The food and renovation are being well received, and the opening has prompted a humorous torrent of nostalgia. After all, Salivar’s was the place where time stood still.
As we know, the Earth makes a full rotation on its axis every 24 hours. It follows that dawn here is dusk on the other side of the world. That is, unless you were lucky enough to be at Salivar’s round about 4:30 a.m. back in the day.
In New York State, bars must close by 4 a.m., which is late if one was doing the rounds from, say, the Shagwong, to Trail’s End, to the Lakeside Inn, winding up at Salivar’s for a nightcap and game of pool.
Of course, 4:30 a.m. is early and right on time if one is a fisherman who’s driven to Montauk from up west ready for a plate of eggs and hash browns before boarding a party boat for a day of fishing.
When the clock struck 4, the late-night inebriants at Salivar’s flowed into the breakfast room with brains on the far side of the world, for all intents and purposes. There they met happy, chattering fishermen all coffeed up, bright-eyed, and bound for the bounding main. One man, face down in his eggs occupied a stool beside another, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Hemispheres collided. Time stood still.
The same scene was repeated throughout the summer months with regulars often exchanging roles from yesterday’s early-morning angler to today’s late-night headache and vice versa. Ships passing in the gloaming. Ah, those were the days, or were they nights?
The walk from Salivar’s to the Viking Fleet dock was, and is, a short one for party boat fishermen. Last weekend, Viking boats ventured far afield to the spot known as Hydros after tilefish and to Stellwagon Bank for cod. They did well.
The fleet will continue on its winter fishing schedule until about May 15 when boats will begin to venture to Cherry Harbor on the west side of Gardiner’s Island in search of porgies. Round about that time, bluefish will begin to appear, first the scouts called runners, skinny from their migration.
Each year, it’s a question of whether the spring squid run will arrive before the bluefish or vice versa. Hopefully, the squid will get here first this season so that squidders can jig up a bucket or two before the ravenous blues chase them away.
Harvey Bennett at the Tackle Shop in Amagansett called to say he’s got some new, fancy surfcasting rods by C.T.S. rods of New Zealand and just-as-fancy reels by Zee Baas, a Connecticut company. The Zee Baas reels were created by the designer of the hearty Van Staal reels. Bennett reported seeing the same few gannets on the hunt and diving into Gardiner’s Bay over by Devon in Amagansett. He has deduced: “Something’s going on.”