FOOD FLASH: MAIDSTONE GETS A MAKEOVER AND VINE STREET ON COVE HOLLOW.

Well the Summer season is off and running in the Hamptons, although as I shovel the snow from my driveway you wouldn’t know it!     Yes, the sex scandals (Vasectomy Fever) and celebrity misadventures are already hitting the web and Page Six.   But other than real estate the only topic worthy of lengthy conversation is the new restaurants, at least in my humble opinion.

By now many of you know there are a slew of highly touted arrivals including, Eleven Madison Park and Le Bilboquet coming to the east end.    What you may not know is there are a few more new eateries that are also causing a buzz among the Hamptons regulars.

The first is the newly revamped Maidstone Hotel on Main Street.    Partners and Alchemy a boutique hotel and restaurant management group has taken over management of the

image1 (2)
The New Maidstone Inn.

village landmark and given it much welcome facelift. With a freshly trained staff and revised and diverse menu from Chef David Standridge of NYC’s Cafe Clover,  it’s a change for the better.   Gone are the Swedish meatballs and plethora of salmon dishes and instead you have more accessible menu dishes including local fare such as scallops, fresh fish, burgers and roast chicken.   Lots to choose from here.

Popovers
Say yes to the carbs!

But for me the biggest standouts from my dinner were the freshly baked popovers, butter lettuce salad with roasted beets and tarragon and the seared Montauk fluke.   Prices are pretty much on par with most places around town with entrees averaging in the $30 range.    Also worth noting is the huge shrimp cocktail.  Huge shrimp… that cracks me up! But i digress.   Between the fresh new atmosphere, attentive staff and diverse menu it’s really worth the trip!     Oh, and if you’re on a non-carb diet the popovers are worth a cheat day!  SERIOUSLY!

The other entry on this weeks blog is the newly opened “Cove Hollow Tavern.”    The owners of Shelter Islands hugely popular Vine Street Cafe have moved

image2 (6)
The sleek new look of Cove Hollow Tavern

into the spot of the former Cafe Max on Montauk Highway in East Hampton.     The menu features some interesting items including for ahi tuna crudo with watermelon and chilies; haricot vert salad; snail and squid ink spaghetti with snails and fennel.    While my gang ordered the Grilled Atlantic Snapper and Seared Diver Scallops, I was a little less adventurous and ordered the roasted organic chicken.   Now, while I’m a big fan of Vine Street I was a little disappointed in the “CHT.”   So were all of my companions.     It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great and there was nothing really compelling for me to advise running there anytime soon.  Granted it’s a brand new restaurant so give them time and hopefully they’ll get their game on. By the way, the interior while very intimate is spectacular and the bar space is inviting and spacious.   I have no problem heading to Vine Street which between the drive and a ferry is well worth the trip.   So here’s hoping “CHT” is as good as it’s sister restaurant in the near future.

 

 

 

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.

AUGUST IN THE HAMPTONS… NO RESERVATIONS… NO PROBLEMS… THE BEST GOURMET TO GO!

Yes, it’s finally August in the Hamptons.     The water is warm.  The sun is shining.   Traffic is bumper to bumper on 27 with Range Rovers in full bloom.    While SoulCyle’s parking lot looks like a WWF pay per view.    But enough about all the things we cherish in the Hamptons during August. Instead lets talk about a major first world problem that so many of us know first hand,  the difficulties with getting a weekend restaurant reservation!

Yes, it’s the time of year when 25 minutes turns into 2 hours for a bar table.    It’s more than any south of the highway socialite should have to endure.   But luckily for you Paris, Kimye and all of the other society readers of Hamptons Chatter, you don’t have to suffer in silence any longer!   Here are a few ideas for getting gourmet meals in your very home without having to stoop to pizza or any sort of wonton that comes in a paper carton.

Free form lasagna from JK Chef Collection

1) Call JKChef Collection – 631-460-0010 – started by chef Jeff Purrazzi and Jack Kelly, the service has a stable of top tier chefs that come to you and and will handle the entire meal from soup to nutted apple tare-tatine.   According to Purrazzi, “The process of hiring a private chef is pretty easy.   We normally speak with our clients over the phone and get an overview of the families culinary likes and dislikes…

…. from the formal dining to the beach BBQ.  The key is to match the clients needs to the perfect chef.   Once we do that, we put the two together to create the perfect dinner menu.”    Prices vary based on the size of party and the duration of the event.   If you like more information you can visit their website www.jkchefcollection.com or give them a call at 631-460-0010.    Make sure to tell them Hamptons Chatter sent you!

2) Saaz -1746 CR 39 Southampton – 631-259-2222 – Gourmet Indian food that in it’s short in town has garnered a large and loyal following.    The location is easy since it’s virtually the first restaurant you see as you drive into the Hamptons.    The full menu including a slew of vegetarian dishes is available online and they even deliver to a large chunk of the east end.  So skip the pizza and go for some steamed chicken somos instead!

Salmon Tartare – Fresno

3) Fresno – 8 Fresno Place East Hampton – 631-324-8700 – New American cuisine at it’s best.   Head Chef Gretchen Menser’s rotating menu of classic crowd pleasers with an epicurean twist is why updated menu and get your tilefish or osso bucco to go! Diners have been lining up at this East Hampton favorite for years.    But the real reason I’m mentioning this here is you can go online, check out the

4) East Hampton Grill – 99 North Main St. East Hampton – 631-329-1955 – Walk right by the crowd at one of the most popular Hamptons restaurants, step up to the bar and grab your grub and get out of there.     Yep, the home of the “heavenly biscuits” will pack your dinner for you to enjoy in your own kitchen.   The menu is available online and updated frequently.    While I’m not sure I would get the oysters to go (a little messy) from the fresh fish, to the roasted chicken and the french dip all are made from scratch daily and travel well.  But most important of all, the clean up is a breeze.

The french dip at East Hampton Grill – ask for horseradish!

5) The Seafood Shop -356 Montauk Highway, Wainscott – 631-537-0633 –   Yes you can buy your shrimp and your fresh fish for home cooking but you can also get a complete dinner on the fly without breaking a sweat.   Lobsters, grilled fish and fresh salads and even a chicken breast sandwich are all on the take out menu.    It’s a complete menu available online that is updated with specials daily and diverse enough for even the finickiest of diners.      It might not be fancy but the food is awesome!

So there you have it 5 ideas for the hungry agoraphobic in all of us.

MMMMMMMMMM…. DONUTS… AND TUNA TARTARE! -UPDATED!!!

In case you missed it there was a lot of buzz a few months ago as Tom Colicchio and Topping Rose House parted ways.    Much of the well deserved criticism revolved around the fact that the prices were steep and the food was just a tad too “precious.”     Well, when it was recently announced that Jean-Georges Vongerichten would be moving into that prime location, it was with a skeptical eye that many Hamptons folks awaited the arrival of it’s latest celebrity chef.     I mean, doesn’t everyone want quail and sweet breads when visiting the beach?

www.toppingrosehouse.com
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. donuts!

But guess what?  A good thing happened on the way to Bridgehampton.   Rather than taking a step on the fancy side, the restaurateur took a page more from his Inn at Pound Ridge menu and gave it a Hamptons spin.    Jean-Georges at the Topping Rose House is now open and ready for business.  While make no mistake the bill is going to cost you a few more dollars than an Olive Garden Prix Fixe, the prices are reasonable by local standards and the menu is actually pretty accessible.   The restaurant was open over the Memorial Day and served dishes from the new menu including; Tuna Tartare with Avacado and ginger marinade for $22, Kale Salad with Lemon and Parmesan $15, Parmesan Crusted Organic Chicken for $32 and a Cheeseburger with Frizzled Onions and House made pickles for $21.     For the vegetarian in the group, they also have a Garden Vegetable Brown Rice bowl with Salsa Verde for $26.    While I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, if it’s anything like the Westchester outlet I have no doubt it will be packed from now until Labor Day!  For more information or reservations, you can try calling 631-537-0870 or go online by clicking here!

Meanwhile, something is apparently brewing in Sag Harbor and Homer Simpson will very happy.    I was on the street and I glazed over to find out that  Grindstone Coffee and Donuts is coming to town.   The hole deal is getting ready to set up shot at the location that was formerly occupied by Pepalajefa at 7 Main Street in Sag Harbor.   Fronted by two veteran coffee shope folks,  locals Kyle Shanahan and Anna Coffman will have brioche style donuts in such mouth watering flavors as strawberry shortcake, chocolate coconut and of course the traditional glazed!  The two are also making a point of sourcing all of the ingredients from local providers like Mecox Dairy and Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett.    In fact, they’re taking the local angle so seriously they’ve decided to start working on a beach plum filled jelly donut recipe.     But if you’re hoping these will be low calorie, fat free, taste free confections, forget it.  The plan is for real “super buttery brioche donuts”… dare I say it’s a the Hamptons answer to a cronut….. a bronut?    The shop will also have a range of gourmet coffees and teas to help unclog your arteries.       Look for Grindstone Coffee and Donuts to open sometime at the end of the month!    One final thought before I go?  Some folks say, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”… except for donuts which say, “skinny can go “f” itself.”