3593 Montauk Hwy. Sagaponack, NY 631-537-2271
Celebs and common folk congregate at this rustic order-at-the-counter spot known for rib-sticking ribs, both pork and beef, as well as pulled pork, barbecued chicken and brisket. Grab a table on the outdoor deck and enjoy a vista of grassy farmland.Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
It was midday at Townline BBQ, the long-awaited Hamptons 'cue oasis that should have opened in early June but didn't until this past Monday. Not a big lunch crowd. Yet. But chef Joseph Realmuto, backed by the owners of the celebrated Nick & Toni's in East Hampton, are sure to draw a glam following.
I surveyed the order-at-the-counter place. Lots of wood, lots of hard, shiny surfaces, a few picnic tables outdoors framing the Sagaponack fields stretching far into the distance. A dog was lazing under one of the outdoor tables where two women contentedly polished off a pile of ribs and a sandwich.
It wasn't long before the flying saucer-like contraption I got when I ordered started to flash and vibrate. And then, four of us were elbow-deep in ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken. We had a pile of paper towels, put to good use.
An upbeat Johnny Cash album I'd never heard before was on the sound system. It went surprisingly well in the laid-back ambience of a joint more South Carolina than Sagaponack.
Pork ribs, smoky and satisfying, would have been even better if they'd been hot rather than lukewarm. The same held true for the meaty beef ribs, two of which could easily make a meal. A pulled pork sandwich was pure pleasure on a potato bun, piled with tangy cole slaw. Fine, too, was a sandwich made with brisket (which we ordered fatty rather than lean), the thick slices contrasting well with the house-made spicy bread and butter pickles on top of them.
I was let down, however, by the barbecued chicken, a pallid bird in both taste and color. Nor was I especially fond of the "Texas link," dry barbecued beef and pork sausage. Baked beans, however, were ideal, tasting of the barbecue pit and not too sweet. And the crisp, thin, perfectly salted fries were impossible to stop eating.
The surprise of the meal was dessert. Banana pudding, served in a plastic cup with vanilla wafers wedged in all around, was creamy and lush, capped with a cloud of freshly whipped cream. The same topping crowned an icebox cake -- chocolate pudding and graham crumbs. What stole the show, however, was a warm and flaky fried cherry pie, brought to our table by one of the restaurant's owners, Mark Smith. It took longer than everything else, he said, because it had been fried to order.