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

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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

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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.

 

 

 

FOODIE ALERT…. 11 MADISON PARK HEADS EAST.

TRUST ME! Bragging rights this summer will belong to those who actually get a reservation at “EMP Summer House.”    It’s the “Hamilton” of this summer.  The much hyped pop-up of Eleven Madison Park (which will be closed this summer for renovations) launched their website for reservations on May 1st and already they are booked solid through mid July (unless of course you don’t mind sitting down at 11:30 at night).    Located in East Hampton at the site of the former Farmhouse, Laundry, Purple Cow, Spring Close and Moby’s…  reservations are exclusively

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A whale of an improvement at Moby’s. EMP Summer House1

for American Express card holders and are being done online at the EMP SUMMER HOUSE website.     According to their press release, the fare will be a bit more casual than the city venue, with lobster, fried chicken, flatbread and salads on the menu.     So far I’ve not had much luck getting at table after navigating the website and two hung ups with American Express.   I called Monday to get information on the website from Amex and got a recording the wait time was 45 minutes – apparently Paul McCartney tickets went on sale at the same time.   Membership has its privileges indeed!   It’s called frustration!  Anyway, thanks to me you now have the web address (a step ahead of where I was) and the knowledge that new reservations will be made available online on June 1st at 12 p.m.    These available dates will be from July 15th through August 15th.   I’m not sure how anyone can plan a meal that far in advance?  I can barely decide what I’m doing today but I’ll tag along if you get a reservation.

Well if you’re new to the Hamptons, let me give you a little word of advice.    When visiting friends, looking for homes or hooking up on Tindr make sure you double check the address.     Recently, I had made plans to meet customers at a home on a certain street in Bridgehampton.     While I eagerly awaited for them to arrive, they called to say they were already inside the house looking.    The only problem with this story is they

Halsey Lane
ONE OF 10…. HALSEY LANE.

were looking in the wrong house!  They had the right address but on the wrong street and town!  UGH!  Luckily, this all happened without any incident but it could have been a tad uncomfortable if this had happened in say Texas where everyone has a gun and cites those “stand my ground” laws.   Anyway, I’m here to tell you there are certain streets you need to be wary when playing Lewis or Clark on the East End.   Here we go:

THE TREE STREETS:  Oak –17 Streets in Southampton and 7 in East Hampton, Cedar – (including Points, Views etc.) 18 streets in Southampton and 6 in East Hampton, Pine – 23 in Southampton and 4 in East Hampton.

THE OLD FAMILY STREETS: Hildreth – (not including the stores) 9 streets in Southampton and 2 in East Hampton.    Halsey –10 in Southampton and 0 in East Hampton and Gardners – 4 in Southampton and 5 in East Hampton.   Luckily there is only one Widow Gavitz Lane and Downer Place in all the Hamptons.

THE WATER STREETS: Bay – 24 in Southampton including the views and 12 in East Hampton, Ocean – 9 in Southampton and 8 in East Hampton, Beach – 8 in Southampton and 7 in East Hampton.

THE LOCATIONS: Middle – 5 in Southampton and 3 in East Hampton, Northwest – 1 in Southampton and 3 in East Hampton, Main – 3 in Southampton and 5 in East Hampton.

I mentioned these streets in a blog once before but I thought it was worth reminding everyone given my recent missing customers.

 

DISCOUNT DINING ON THE EAST END… PLUS, WHY YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT TILL EXIT 70.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s starting to look a lot like spring in the Hamptons.    Are the trees budding?   Have the lilies bloomed?   NO!   Traffic is picking up.   There are more cars today than there were last weekend and probably more next week.    One of the other rites of spring is also here, “RESTAURANT WEEK.”     From March 26th to April 2nd, a select number of eateries will be celebrating “East End Restaurant Week.”   I’m not sure how this IS different than “Hamptons Restaurant Week”….. but…..  many of the names are similar.   Fresno, Nick and Toni’s and Service Station in East Hampton, Le Charlot and Union Cantina in Southampton and Page, Wolffer Kitchen and Barons Cove in Sag Harbor are a few of the participating eateries.

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Zucchini Chips at N&T’s!

For a complete list of where to chow you can click here for the details. For a complete list of where to chow you can click here for the details.

Speaking of Union Cantina in Southampton..  I recently stopped by for dinner and was pleasantly surprised.   I went when they first opened and was initially underwhelmed.

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Deconstructed Enchiladas

Luckily, I decided to give them another shot.      You should too.    We started with what I assume are the homemade chips and guacamole,  very solid.   After that,  I had the “deconstructed” enchiladas, house salad and tortilla soup.    All were delicious with a little heat but not overwhelming.      The service was good… not great but good.   It could be that I was there on a snowy night and nobody really felt like working.   I know I didn’t feel like cooking on a snowy night!    We all love a snow day.    Anyway, I would say try for yourself and let me know if you agree.    Oh, the margaritas are definitely worth trying too…. not too sweet with a good kick.

Are we there yet??????  Are we there yet?    Well, I’m already here …. out of the traffic suckas!    But while you haul your buts… or is it butts… out here in the

Whale
This just screams fun!  Unlike Sea World where there are just screams.

next few weeks there’s something new along the LIE!   I know…  excitement on the expressway!   No longer do you need to ignore your kids and spouses and declare they, “hold it in until exit 70.”     You now have the Long Island Visitors at Exit 52!   That nearly 18 exits sooner!!!  Yes, I’m good at math… I took Calculus 101 twice!     Anyway, “THE” answer is yes… they are clean bathrooms.    Plus, they have a a market featuring long island specialties and some fine cups of coffee too.    But for me, I had a whale of a good time just walking into the place (see photo).   It’s almost as fun as Sea World but nobody gets eaten by the giant fish!

 

 

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.