The menu at Hank’s is simple – chicken and tuna salad, grilled cheese, a Thai peanut wrap, a BLT – so, even though a chef owns and runs the place, I wasn’t expecting much more than a quick lunch on a quiet Wednesday afternoon.

But chef/owner Henry “Hank” Wagner executes his uncomplicated menu so well his sandwiches are well worth the stop on a summer day when you’re out having fun and get hungry for lunch. He uses local ingredients, including food produced on his uncle’s farm, and seems to take care with every order so that it’s not “just a sandwich.” Wagner attended the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, known for its slow food philosophy, and it shows.

When I arrived shortly after the restaurant opened for the day, the parking lot was already nearly full. Even though it seemed crowded, the young woman who enthusiastically greeted me immediately offered me a table on the brand new deck out back, where most customers appeared to be seated. I chose to stay inside because it was really humid and looked like rain was coming.

The interior of Hank’s, which used to be Uncle Don’s Spurwink Country Kitchen, is brand spankin’ new. Wagner spent months renovating the place. My table, next to a large picture window, had a bright, shiny finish. In a nod to its past, the dining room is filled with photos of the restaurant in its previous incarnation. Small windows were open to catch the breeze. Edison bulbs encased in glass globes and seashore-themed paintings added to the casual, beachy atmosphere.

The interior of Hank’s, formerly Uncle Don’s Spurwink Country Kitchen, in Scarborough. Photo by Meredith Goad

The server who took my order was friendly, helpful, and quick. She was one of several young employees seating customers and waiting on tables; I was surprised to see that Hank’s doesn’t appear to be affected by the current staffing shortage.

I ordered a Cubano made with slow-cooked, mojo-marinated pork (mojo is a sauce made with lots of citrus and garlic); thin-sliced smoked ham from Breludin Farm in Northport (Wagner’s uncle’s farm); Swiss cheese melted so that a few crispy bits cascaded over the side of the pressed bread; pickles, and mustard aioli. The sandwich, priced at $15, arrived still warm and melty, and the flavor was terrific.

Each sandwich comes with a side. The day I visited, the sides included cole slaw and a quinoa salad. I chose another option instead. For an additional $4, you can substitute soup for a side. The soup of the day was a celery and potato soup. Hank’s always has a pot of clam chowder steaming in the kitchen, though, and since I love chowder, that’s what I ordered, even though it’s an odd pairing for a Cubano. A cup of soup on its own costs $7; a bowl is $10.

It was an excellent version, filled with plenty of clams and small pieces of potato swimming in a thin broth – the way clam chowder should be (sorry, thick broth people). And so much bacon! Every spoonful contained a bite of chopped, thick bacon.

Other sandwiches on the menu (in addition to those mentioned above) include a pork-and-beef meatball sandwich and a turkey and fig jam sandwich made with whipped goat cheese, greens and pickled shallots and on a demi-baguette. Sandwich prices range from $12 to $15, but this summer the menu also includes a lobster roll priced at $29. Hank’s serves a variety of salads as well, ranging from $13 to $16. Desserts are simple – typically cookies or dessert squares (a chocolate chip blondie on the day I visited).

Hank’s has plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to choose from, but if you want to relax with something stronger, the menu includes beer, wine, and hard cider and seltzer. The restaurant has been opening for a couple of hours in the late afternoon on weekends for “aprés beach” food and drinks.

It’s nice to see an old, local favorite updated and transformed into something new. Spurwink Country Kitchen was there for 70 years, and as a child, Wagner used to eat there with his family. In a strange coincidence, members of the chef’s family appeared to be sitting at a big table near me, along with “Uncle Don,” the last owner, all laughing and having a good time. I tried not to eavesdrop, but it was hard not to overhear some of their conversation. I caught this tidbit, if anyone is interested: Apparently the best photo of the old restaurant is in the men’s room.


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