Food Reviews: Muse in the Harbor Restaurant and Lounge

Sag Harbor (631) 899-4810


Innovation, imagination and creativity are the words that best describe Matthew Guiffrida’s new Muse in the Harbor Restaurant and Lounge in Sag Harbor. Conversely the three words that don’t do justice to his East End enterprise are predictable, standard and ordinary. Every dish on his menu reflects not only his culinary unorthodoxy, but also his whimsical sense of humor. Instead of listing himself as the chef and owner, he proclaims his restaurant “A Chef Matthew Guiffrida Production.” His tuna trio is called “Ménage À Trois,” and then there are “Not Ya Mama’s Meatballs,” the “Soup of the Moment,” “Are You Ready For Smore” and “The Three Little Pigs.” All of which would be cutesy instead of funny if the dishes fell flat. But they don’t.

Aside from a colossal, straightforward, blackened rib eye steak special ($30) with caramelized onions, every dish boasts one or more interesting spins and surprises. A commendable, diverse fall apple salad ($14) contains much more than apples and includes crisp smoked salmon “bacon” and blood orange marmalade Caesar on crispy cheese bread pudding. Boneless short ribs ($28) arrive atop pumpkin gorgonzola polenta with sherry-spiked vegetable demi glace. And while linguini carbonara ($30) routinely comes laced with plenty of pancetta, the one served at Muse also contains jumbo shrimp, P.E.I. mussels and bay scallops.

Diners who enjoy more than one major player on each plate will find a number of diverse options here. Among them is one entrée, The Three Little Pigs—pork three ways—and two starters, including that tuna Ménage À Trois—a fish trio—and the Not Ya Mama’s Meatballs—four mixed-nationality golf ball-sized morsels ($12).

A recent dinner began with a warm, wonderful roll accompanied by butter, olive oil and sun dried tomato. Unfortunately we never received a second or were asked if we wanted one. Aside from that exemplary fall apple salad (it held smoked Gouda, Craisins and sunflower seeds as well as the ingredients mentioned earlier), the BLT chopped salad ($13) was actually a deconstructed wedge salad with all the same ingredients—tomatoes, smoked bacon, grilled peppered croutons, iceberg lettuce and Marsala gorgonzola vinaigrette. That was followed by the three tuna preparations: Tartar, blackened lollypop and seasoned carpaccio. There was less variety among the four meatballs (Asian, Italian, Swedish and Thanksgiving with cranberries and onion compote), but they provided no less taste.

Speaking of cranberries, they were also folded into a tasty duck confit that accompanied the equally tasty Wasabi au poivre Long Island duck ($32). The three piggy picks were superb—two thick slices of homemade bacon, pulled pork and teriyaki on an undistinguished Johnny cake and braised pork belly—yes! A pan seared Atlantic salmon ($29) tasted as though it had been cooked just minutes before.

It would be a mistake to pass up Muse’s excellent desserts. The warm zepole in a bag, the double fudge lava cake, the rich cheesecake and especially that airy smore with its dense dark chocolate mousse were all understandably devoured.

Muse, with its mammoth 4- by 8-foot saltwater aquarium, French doors, globe lighting, outdoor deck, faux pressed ceiling, tile walls and appropriately restrained live music (on the Sunday night we visited), is a mellow milieu that nicely captures the Hamptons vibe.

photos by stephen lang

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richard jay scholem

Richard Jay Scholem practically invented the Long Island restaurant culture through 800+ reviews of the region's eateries both on radio and in print over the last 30 years. He is a former New York Times Long Island Section restaurant reviewer, has contributed to the Great Restaurants of...magazines and Bon Vivant, authored a book, aired reviews on WGSM and WCTO radio stations, served on the board of countless community and food and beverage organizations, and received many accolades for his journalism in both print and broadcast media. He is currently available for restaurant consultation. Reach him at (631) 271-3227.