Are Short Term Rentals Harming The Hamptons… and I FINALLY got to Topping Rose!!

So the Hamptons are more crowded this year than last.  But yet, everyone from shop keepers and especially real estate agents (talking rentals) are saying that business is off.   One thing I always do when I take my stroll around town trying to look better dressed than the next guy, I always ask shop owners “how was your season?”   The response I keep hearing “not great.”    But it’s so crowded, which leaves me wondering what gives!?     Well some folks are blaming the increasing popularity of those short term rental websites for the problem.       For example, you can rent a house in Southampton from a website called Marquis for a nightly rate of $1,100 a night even though this is in violation of town code which requires a minimum of 14 days.     So, according to some there lies the problem.    You have a house which advertises an occupancy of 12 people each essentially paying $100 per person, they’re not the types who are going to be spending money about town in the shops and restaurants.     By the way, I like that the Hamptons are becoming more accessible to folks who wouldn’t normally be able to visit but by allowing overcrowding in houses it’s more like a spring break location than quiet escape from city living.    What do you think?

Finally,  I got the chance to visit the new Topping Rose by Jean Georges last night and I can say is it was worth the wait.  Although the reservation lines need some fixing… about 45 minutes of holds, hang ups and transfers… the total experience was great.   The menu is unpretentious with everything from an amazing mini pizza to a terrific kale salad and a really solid cheese burger.    Service was solid and entrees arrived within a half hour of ordering.  I had the penne with meatballs and thought they were over the top awesome.   My dinner guests ordered the burger and the salmon, each earning a thumbs up from each.   I also recommend the heirloom tomato salad which right now is on the tail of being in season so go try it now.    This is a huge step up from last year’s outing by Tom Colicchio.


Break out the pastels and the whites… it’s now officially ok to wear your fancy duds!  Well as of Sunday anyway.   So after the bunny has dropped the basket, where are some great places to wear your best bonnet?   Well look no further, Hamptons Chatter is here to help.  Here are my top 3 suggestions:
Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor (, 631-725-1810)  will have an a la carte brunch menu from 11 to 4 featuring such holiday favorites as leg of lamb and Eggs Benedict.   They’ll also have plenty of champagne and mimosas to help with that headache from the all the little kiddies sugar high!
So CUTE.. and hopefully not on any menu!
Topping Rose in Bridgehampton (, 631-537-0870) will also have an al carte brunch menu featuring everything Brioche Donuts to Painted Hill Short Rib hash from 11:30 to 3p.   They’ll also have activities for the kids and a giant Easter Bunny around for photographs.  You’ll be able to order EXTRA champagne without drama.  Earplugs will not be provided.
Barons Cove in Sag harbor (, 631-725-2101) will be hosting an Easter egg hunt for the kids… so hopefully they’ll be outside.   Brunch will be served from 11 to 4p and feature all your holiday favorites including lamb, roast beef and rabbit stew.  OK, actually there is no rabbit stew…. that would be kind of cruel.   Don’t cha think!?    I mean… “Thank you Easter Bunny for the chocolate… now jump into the pot!?”

Speaking of Easter Bunnies, they need to be watching their eggs and hops these days.   While I’m not sure if it’s a real warning or where the heck it originates, there is a message circulating on the internet and Facebook about there being a larger number of Hawks this season on the east coast.   The alleged warning has been issued by “Park Rangers” and “Veterinarians” to pet owners who have dogs or cats that weigh less then 12 pounds.


Apparently our small furry friends run the risk of being swooped away.   I actually had a friend who swore that happened to her pet a few years back but I question that particular incident and attribute it more to her 3 martini breakfast.    “I saw it… my dog flew away!”   Kind of scary considering it was a German Shepard. Anyway, all kidding aside I did some digging online and while the “warning” may possibly be bogus, the risk is actually quite real.    But before you panic and call your local veterinarian for advice or veteran with a gun on addressing the potential problem, just remember these birds of prey are FEDERALLY PROTECTED!      So what can you do?   Well here is are a few tips for keeping your pets safe.

-Keep them leashed and supervise when outdoors.
-Remove bird feeders.   They attract small birds and mice which in tern attract raptors.
-Put hhiny objects that move out of the yard, such as silver streamers.   They will scare off the birds.
-Build a pen with a wire mesh for your pet to play.
So keep your pets safe, have a great weekend and remember SUMMER IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER.  Which means traffic.   Yeah!

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, No it’s YOUR NEIGHBOR…. and is Scuttle Hole the new L.I.E.?

Forget the privet hedge, drones are here!

Sure Martha Stewart loves her Drone according to Time Magazine but do her neighbors?    Yes, one man’s toy is another man’s torment and here in the Hamptons is no exception.    Sources have told me one high powered Hamptons resident has taken his/her  Hatfiled/McCoys situation with his/her next door neighbor to a new level.    This person is apparently buzzing the neighbors yard and taking pictures of sunbathing guests and family.   Yes these poor residents now are being harassed by a techno-voyeur!  While they haven’t reported anything to the police (Duh, who wants to end up in the police blotter) they have been soliciting help from landscapers, housekeepers etc on shooting that puppy down!   So forget the deer cull everyone, we’re hunting drones!

Meanwhile, as local towns continue to crack down on Realtors and their signs (smaller, smaller, smaller) locals have also started complaining about the proliferation of builder/contractor signs.  Yes, real estate is the best form of advertising and that’s why some local firms are leaving their signs up on homes that are not even on the market!    Take Scuttle Hole Rd. in Bridgehampton for example where one contractor has had a sign up for nearly 3 years and the property isn’t even for sale!    There’s also a similar situation on Ocean Rd. in Bridgehampton where one of my friends quipped, “it’s starting to look like the LIE before the Midtown Tunnel!”  Make fun of Realtors and our obsession with signs if you’d like but at least we limit ours in size and duration!  Shouldn’t a home actually be under construction or on the market for a sign to be put up?  Yeah, that one big guy out here has signs everywhere but he doesn’t leave them up for 2 years after the house sells!!!  I’m just saying! By the way, don’t even get me started on those pop up signs for the “Our drivers your car” signs on every corner!


A Tale of Two Restaurant Openings…. Plus, Everyone Really Is A Critic!

Ok, the dust has settled and we’re back to a calmer and more civilized Hamptons, well up until July 4th weekend anyway.    That being said, I’m exhausted the guest, the traffic and the difficult cocktail conversation.  “Yes, I heard that Saint Barth’s is not what it used to be.”  Oi vey!  But other than the buzz about where everyone else went and where I didn’t there were a few topics that seemed to be on everyone in the Hamptons lips.   The state of the real estate market on the east end and what new restaurants have come to town!    But if you thought today’s blog was going to be about the market, you would be wrong!    I’m going to spill the beans on the two biggest openings of the last week!

Now, while I didn’t go to any restaurants this past weekend I do have sources that braved the openings of two highly anticipated new restaurants in Sag Harbor; Doppio and Harlow.   The menus and pedigree of both are very different and the reaction to both was pretty much the same…. VERY DIFFERENT!

Harlow which arrives in town with very high expectations opened it’s doors recently.   Located at the

A rough start?   But oh what a view!

old B.Smith’s location on Long Warf, it comes from one of the partners of the infamous Nobu and already has one location in the city.     Billed as similar to their city outlet with a more “low key East End atmosphere,” the restaurant will none the less attract a similar crowd with offerings such as their signature oyster bar.   So,  was it a home run?   Well according to  friends of mine who went this past Saturday, it was a more of a strike out.   They described the restaurant as a complete “cluster f***!”  In spite of having reservations they were put off not 1…. but 2 hours before they called it quits and headed off to The Cuddy instead!    They said the staff was also very surly and I’ve also heard mentions about the bathrooms not working and patrons having to go down the block.    So as you can tell, I have no reports on the food just yet!

Now, I get it!  It’s Memorial Day weekend and you got slammed and we’ll give you some time to get your bearings.   But then again, it’s not like you didn’t know it was going to be a crowded holiday weekend!    We’ll check back in a few weeks and see how they do especially since it is one of THE best locations on the east end and the menu looks really impressive.

Doppio is up an running!

Meanwhile, down the street at the home of the former Madison and Main the folks at Doppio apparently got off to a very auspicious start.   Billed as an artisan bistro, the restaurant with the
“dopey” sounding name obviously came to town ready to do business.    I’m hearing  the crew in Sag Harbor is a well oiled machine with good food and good friendly service!    Let’s hope they can keep up the good work!    The last thing in the world I wanted on the east end was another Italian restaurant but Doppio sounds like its worth the trip!

Speaking of customers and their restaurant experiences, if you ever want a good laugh look no further than some of the reviews for Hamptons restaurants on YELP!    Now, I know sometimes people are just plain pains in the butt and that’s why I take the caveat here, I didn’t write these comments, I’m just reporting them.   I mean, god forbid people do online reviews of this blog!   I can hear them now; “How can you not know the difference between they’re and there.”   “You have all the wrong punctuation.”   “Lousy spelling.”   Yeah, well you know what….  lighten up Frances, it’s a blog not the New York Times!    I know I’m not Tom Wolfe but at least I’m no Bret Easton Ellis!   So anyway, here are some of my favorites that had me squirting my Sauvignon Blanc through my nose!    But more importantly it proves my point Hampton diners are sometimes hard to please!

Pierre’s Bridgehampton:  While the over all rating for Pierre’s was 3 out of 5 Stars, there were a few scathing remarks that have not doubt been responsible for a dent in their status.   TB from Manhattan said on 7/22/13 “below average food, fighting cougars…. and beyond obnoxious.”    Is a restaurant full of cougars a bad thing?

Calvin from NYC wrote on 8/30/13 “Too arrogant!  French man…. Do not give them a credit card for reservations and the reservation never on time.”   Well Calvin,  if you can own a credit card you can obviously afford to buy a verb.  Calvin you are a stupid American!

Sant Ambroeus, Southampton:  Overall they got 4 out of 5 stars, so why not 5?   Well, TF from Atlanta wrote on 6/12/13, “I tipped a very small amount because of poor service – about 10% but later on my credit card statement I noticed that they ignored the tip amount I wrote and “updated it to 18%.”  Sorry TF, zeros and 8’s look so similar it’s an honest mistake.  Maybe they were just agreeing with you and put another zero on top of your zero!?  See… it can happen!

Well apparently service with attitude is their biggest issue.   Christy G from Greenwich Ct. wrote on 7/7/13 “if you don’t walk in dripping in gold and Versace they assume you shouldn’t be there.”   While S.P. from Denver, CO. wrote 4/14/12 “why give a wine list if you ‘re never coming back to take the order.”   When in Rome you two!

LT Burger, Sag Harbor:   3 out of 5 Stars.   Josh M. from Manhattan wrote on 1/28/14 that he “wouldn’t go there if my eyebrows were on fire and the place had the only water in Sag Harbor.”    I guess he didn’t like it?

Trust me they get better but I’m trying to be nice here guys!    Some comments involve bad food and cases of Montezuma’s revenge!    All I can say is it’s rough out there!

Old Stove Pub, Sagaponack: 2 out of 5 Stars.   Michael S. from New York wrote on 8/23/13… “If you enjoy sea bass that smells like a soiled diaper served, eventually, by a shiftless and competent waiter than this is your joint!”

In the age of social media EVERYBODY IS A CRITIC!