Dining Out: Wainscott

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Summer traffic has been especially brutal this year, so sometimes pulling over for a bite to eat beats sitting in the car. Thanks to the Highway Diner and Bar in Wainscott, the option to get off the road and wait it out on the way to points east just got tastier.

Highway Diner and Bar

324-0130

highwaydinerandbar.com

Most Popular: Fried Calamari & Rock Shrimp; $13

Signature: Grilled Salmon; $23

Chef’s Favorite: Roasted Chicken; $23

The Highway Diner and Bar is a diner, kind of. It serves typical diner fare, but made with atypical diner ingredients and prepared with a chef’s twist. For example, the thick-cut bacon comes from D’Artagnan, egg sandwiches are served on a pretzel croissant, all potato products (home fries, french fries and mashed) are hand-cut and made from scratch. In fact, according to owner David Kuperschmid, everything is made in-house from scratch.

“We spend more time and money surrounded by potatoes than anything! It would be so much easier to get things frozen but we don’t,” Mr. Kuperschmid said. “Our feeling was there is no reason you can’t use first-quality ingredients at a diner and still charge a reasonable price.

The space is open, light and inviting. Mr. Kuperschmid took over the restaurant in November and renovated the entire interior. The benches, tables and bar were all custom built, and the soda fountain bar is made out of quartz and powder-coated steel—not the typical diner decor of Formica and dark, lumbering booths.

The most popular dish on the menu is the Fried Calamari and Rock Shrimp, according to Mr. Kuperschmid. The cephalopods and crustaceans are lightly tossed in rice flour, which is lighter and cooks up crispier than regular flour, then deep fried. The dish is served with zucchini chips, a spicy aioli and lemon.

The signature dish at the Highway Diner and Bar is the Grilled Salmon. It is charred, with a pink center and served over lentils with a Dijon mustard cream and an arugula salad topping.

“Some people say lentils are a fall thing, but everyone said don’t take them off the menu,” Mr. Kuperschmid said. “We experimented with an Asian twist at one point, but people wanted the lentils back.”

The chef’s favorite dish is the Roasted Chicken, which is served with mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach and natural jus. So much chicken is cooked for the juices to make the potent jus served with the entrée that the sauce costs almost as much as the meal Mr. Kuperschmid reported.

“If you can do a good roasted chicken, that says a lot, he said. “It has a crispy skin and just a little bit of butter. More chicken goes into making the jus than the actual chicken,” he laughed.

Highway Diner and Bar is located at 290 Montauk Highway in East Hampton. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call 324-0130 or visit highwaydinerandbar.com.

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