Last weekend we were in the Hamptons and decided to have lunch at Highway Diner & Bar in East Hampton. The restaurant itself is relatively new and the interior has all the de rigueur trappings of a high-end beach town establishment. But despite all the niceties, I couldn’t quite embrace Highway Diner & Bar because the place lacks character and a distinct identity. It sort of feels like a country club, other times a surf lodge, and maybe even an old-timey diner. What exactly is it trying to be? It looks like the owners tried to incorporate anything and everything that would evoke nostalgia and summer vacation. If the term people-pleaser could be personified by a restaurant, then Highway Diner & Bar would be it.
Now if the food were delicious, I would be willing to cut the restaurant some slack, but everything we had was pretty meh. It was this close to being solid, but not quite. The roasted beet and goat cheese salad I ordered was a prime example of this. Nothing about the salad was offensive, but at the same time it was nothing to write home about. The flavorful chicken andouille gumbo was a great improvement, but the ratio of sausage to soup was a little too high. While the gumbo was good, it was good in that corporate cafeteria kind of way. The fried local flounder sandwich and fries were the only items that were legitimately good and worth recommending.
Most standard lunch items cost around $10-$12, whereas mains typically cost $20+. Apparently this is pretty reasonable pricing for the Hamptons, so perhaps that alone should convince you to try this place. And it is very pretty and pleasant inside. But I personally think Highway Diner & Bar is a pit stop I would skip.
Highway Diner & Bar
290 Montauk Highway
East Hampton, NY 11937