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Comfortable Food: Dining with a couple who want to make you feel at home

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By Emily J. Weitz

The comfort you feel when you walk in the front door of Out East, a new restaurant in North Sea, is no coincidence. Patrick French, a Sag Harbor native and Pierson graduate, sees that aspect of the business as integral.

“It’s all about community,” he says. “I want to have coffee ready for regulars before they have to ask for it. I want to get to know people and their habits.”

This customer service he learned from a local legend, Danny Murray, who owns the restaurant at Poxabogue, a bastion of affordable eating in a climate dominated by high-end and pricy restaurants. French has known Murray since he was a little boy tagging along on his father’s golf outings. So when Murray approached him with the idea to open Out East in the old Regular’s location on North Sea Road, Patrick “jumped all over it.” After spending the past ten years working in restaurants in the city, he’s finally home.

“It’s a warmer, slower pace,” he says. “It’s nice to have old friends coming in. It’s comforting.”

Murray owns the restaurant, but French and his fiancée Aerin Suh are the ones on the ground level. They are there every day from 7 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, they are shaping the menu, and they are pouring their hearts into the place.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this community,” says Suh. Originally from California, Suh met Patrick while she was waitressing in New York City.

When she started coming to the East End to see his family, “I always felt like I was coming home,” she says. “It reminded me of California with a New York feel. It’s a beach town with a cosmopolitan twist… I had no problem envisioning myself here.”

In addition to feeling comfortable and welcoming, there’s something extremely fresh about Out East. Part of that is undoubtedly due to Suh’s California influence, represented on the menu in items like the Left Coast Burger, which is an 8-ounce beef patty stuffed with swiss cheese, served with avocado and tomato on a brioche bun. The variety of salads, the bagel with hummus and veggies, and the sweet potato fries all contribute to this fresh take on classic fare.

This freshness is not just in the abundance of avocadoes or in the light pouring in through the spacious front windows, but in the energy of Aerin and Patrick. It feels like the beginning, and with that comes a flexibility and creativity.

“We want to have something for everyone, and we don’t want to corner ourselves. Our menu will be ever-evolving, and will be dictated by what our customers want,” says Suh.

That’s why they chose to start out simple, specializing in burgers and breakfast. As their clientele expands so will their menu and their hours, and they do expect to open for dinner with a full service bar in the coming months. But for now, “We want to do what we do really well,” says Suh.

There are a lot of places out here that are fresh and delicious and even comfortable. But there’s another characteristic that will really make a place stand out here: affordability. In an area where a couple can expect to spend upwards of $50 for lunch, it’s nice to peruse a menu where nothing costs more than twelve bucks.

“Nothing turns your mood sour like a huge bill at the end of your night,” says Suh.

Out East prides itself on being accessible to everyone, seasonal people and locals alike.

French’s roots on the East End and Suh’s eagerness to call the area home also contribute to the overall experience at Out East.

“Our menu acknowledges the East End and how great it is for food,” Suh says. “I can’t wait for corn season.”

French adds that “we keep everything local as much as we can. You’ll see a lot of Danny’s influence in terms of where we get our stuff. We get our meat from Cromer’s and fresh baked goods from Chris’s Hamptons’ Bakery.”

Perhaps part of the allure of Out East isn’t in the food (though it’s great) or the ambience (though it’s lovely). Part of it is something much less tangible. It’s in that sense of newness and optimism that comes with starting out.

“We just got engaged,” says French, “and we’re starting a future out here together.”

What that future looks like depends greatly on what the community wants and how Out East can best provide it.

Out East is located at 1271 North Sea Rd., North Sea. Phone 259-2998 or visit www.outeastny.com.