Since the closing of Paradise in Sag Harbor, my family, especially my dad, has been looking to fill the crispy chicken hole in his stomach. Word on ‘27 was that since Robert’s is the same owner as the former Paradise, they would now carry their famous chicken. With Mother’s Day weekend being held out east, is was a no brainer as to where we would head for dinner on Saturday night.
The best thing about eating at Robert’s during the off season is the warm and inviting fireplace, a luxury one avoids during the summer season. There was the right amount of chill in the Spring air to enjoy the fireplace. From the outside, Robert’s looks like a home rather than a restaurant, and when you walk in, it feels just as inviting. The wood beams, the low ceilings, all make you feel like you are walking into a familiar and comforting space. The Maitre d’ was formerly at Paradise, and was funny, kind, and let us know the chicken was on the menu. The only difference, he informed us, was that the herbs were fresh, rather than dried. But will it be as good? <Cue family debate.>
As some readers are aware, I am not a fan of when bread is served but no bread plates are given. This was the case, but at least there were white table clothes to eat off of. The bread was warm, bread plates were given when asked, and the menus were large. In bold letters on the bottom of the menu states NO SUBSTITUTIONS. As a patron, this always bothers me. Even if I don’t want to. I can’t help but think of all the things I might want to substitute. The maitre d’ did let my father know that he was allowed to substitue the polenta, which came with the chicken, for the shoe string potato fries. This was customary with the chicken from paradise. Phew. Crisis averted.
The appetizers surpassed the entrées for everyone in my family. My appetizer was a warm mushroom salad, with shallots and bitter greens. I eliminated the chickpeas (eliminations are allowed). My family enjoyed their appetizers as well, asparagus with shaved parmesan, and prosciutto di parma with zucchini. Our side dish, the Brussels sprouts with bacon, arrived with our appetizers, and then were too cold to eat with our meal.
Our main dishes took a turn south. My mother and I ordered the crispy duck. It was served in a red wine broth with fennel and olives. It was well cooked and neither dry nor fatty, but only moderately seasoned. It was tasty and I would recommend it. Although I am not a big fan of fennel, there were no substitutions allowed. My father and brother both ordered the chicken. Granted, the chicken had a high standard to live up to, according to my father the chicken expert, it did not quite meet it. The chicken was crispy and also not dry, but bland. The French fries on the other hand, were soggy and a big disappointment. My sister-in-law’s pasta with wild mushrooms, parmesan, truffle oil, and oregano was extremely tasteless. It required a lot of doctoring up with salt and pepper to have any flavor.
Biscotti is the way to please my family for dessert, and Robert’s did not disappoint. It was crispy, not chewy, chocolate chip biscotti. The apple pie was a lot more apple than crust, and as long as you don’t mind a thicker, less pastry filled apple pie, you will enjoy it.
Overall, Robert’s is a consistently good restaurant in Water Mill. It has yet to replace the crispy chicken from Paradise, but those are big shoes to fill. I would not recommend the mushroom pasta, but the setting, staff, and food, are all worth a visit.
Pro: Warm and inviting atmosphere.
Con: Pasta was bland, chicken didn’t meet the hype, and No Substitutions.
Pro: Serves consistently good food all year round.