Salsa… Soros… and more!

I’ve griped forever about how there isn’t a good Mexican “sit down” restaurant in the Hamptons.    I’ve complained and complained.  Yes, I like La Fondita and Sabrosa but I can’t really see having a nice quiet dinner at either location.     But this summer, it seems we finally can get the whole enchilada and enjoy it too!

First in Southampton is Union Cantina.   Located at the site of the former Southampton Public House,   the “Cantina” opened in mid-June and has been packing it’s tables ever since.   So far, the reviews have been pretty good.   I haven’t yet been but FOHC (Friends of Hamptons Chatter) have been telling me the foods pretty solid… not outstanding but good.    The standouts according to my sources are the enchiladas, roasted peach glazed pork and the freshly made salsa.  While the prices are certainly not Taco Bell they’re not exactly Nello either.    So based on the word of mouth around town it seems Union Cantina is worth a visit.    If you’ve been, let me know what you think.
Secondly,  The Blue Parrot in East Hampton has long been a punch line for bad food and bad service in my book forever!  I went a few years ago when it first opened under the new management which includes Jon Bon Jovi and the girl from Jerry Maguire who has a name I can’t spell.   The food was overpriced, lousy and served with a snarl from the surly staff.      If that wasn’t bad enough they used to have a bouncer there which would have lead you to believe, folks were clamoring to get inside…. and they weren’t.   Anyway, for whatever reason I decided to stop by for a visit last week after a hiatus of close to three years.      The first thing I encountered was a friendly staff and no bouncer!     I had to wait while my table was being prepped so I sat at the bar and had a really great margarita… at $15 bucks it was no bargain but the pour was generous and the mason jar/drinking glass was filled pretty high.
I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I like you!!!

After about 5 minutes, the table was ready and I sat down as fresh tortilla chips and salsa were being dropped off at the table.      That was followed by the house Oaxaca salad and Lime Chipotle fajitas.  While I know fajitas aren’t exactly gourmet and probably not the best way to judge the cuisine, I have to say they were really good and served with fresh made corn tortillas.     By the way, yes you can make bad fajitas I should know, I worked at a Chi Chi’s in college (for those of you who don’t know, it was the Mexican Olive Garden of the 80’s).     My partner in crime Peter had the fish tacos which which also garnered a big thumbs up.      The final verdict is that I take back all the negative things I’ve said in the past about Blue Parrot.    The snarky Go Fund Me page for the chef to take cooking lessons has been taken down and my mea culpa is complete.     So ,  if you’ve not been to The Blue Parrot in years, take my advice and give it another shot.

Finally, just in time for August some good news about what makes the Hamptons such a fun place to live.    According to sources, billionaire investor George Soros made a stop with a few friends at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor.   While that’s not anything to set rumors flying what happened when the check was delivered is the interesting part.  Apparently Mr. S. (as I call him) paid his hefty check with 4 figures not including cents and added on a 100%+ tip for the staff.     While I haven’t been able to confirm this Christmas come early gift from the tight lipped staff at the hotel… my sources are pretty reliable.     Besides, what’s so wrong with being nice!?

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.

HIGHWAY DINER…. NEW LOOK… NEW OWNERS…. NEW ATTITUDE!

The best pot pie ever!
Ginormous salads!

So, a quick blog post is better than no blog post at all (at least according to me).   After being a sushi restaurant with financing by Wells Fargo, SHUKU the Highway Diner has reopened.   In the first restaurant opening of the season, they did it quietly but carried a big culinary stick!     While I don’t have many of the details on the chefs and owners etc., I can tell you the staff seemed to be experienced and ready to take on the task of breaking the curse of the tank!     So what did we have?  A chicken pot pie which is quite possibly the best one I ever tasted!!!!   My of my dinner companions had freshly made pasta where they said they can “actually taste the difference.”  I started with a Caesar salad that could have been a meal itself.    Also gone is the sterile cold interior that had diners sitting on edge as every new customer walked in the door.  Now, the old diner’s food wasn’t bad but I think the management and staff were in over their heads.  My favorite or least favorite experince I should say was when they ran out of bagels for breakfast at $10 a pop.  HELLO, THERE IS A BAGEL STORE TWO DOORS DOWN!    Anyway, for a first night the Highway Diner was a hit with me and everyone else at the table!   I think it has what it takes… good food … good service….a full bar and good prices!

Home made pastas!

It’s about time to have some good restaurants in the Hamptons.  Meanwhile, Nichol’s is really shuttered for renovations and who knows if it will ever return.  Meanwhile, I’m doing a death watch on about 3 different restaurants on the east end.  More on that coming soon, I promise!

Southamptons is getting a little more social!!! And one of my greatest Hamptons discoveries ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well by now we all know the tales of Ed (Jean Luc) Kleefeld… his restaurants JL East, JL Bistro, Madame Tong’s and Prime 103 and their lasting legacy of cobwebs and unused commerical space. Well 2011 is a very good year for former some of the best old “JL” properties.

First, Michael Gluckman and his management team including Rory Boothby successfully launched “The Beach House” last week. A sort of spin off to their already successful “Boat House” off Three Mile Harbor. It was the opening of the year so far when they toasted Cinco De Mayo last Thursday! The cars were lined up and down Montauk Highway and of course our local men in blue were there to issue tickets. Yes, tis the season! It was wall to wall people there to see the new and improved space that was once PRIME 103 and JL East. The new menu gets a big thumbs up for some real crowd pleasing dishes (as opposed to the impossible menu at Southfork Kitchen) and the prices that won’t make your eyes pop. I’ll have more about their food and plans for events at “The Beach House” later this week… today’s blog is about the real estate. But one last word, KUDOS for the best opening night of the year goes to “The Beach House.”

Now for the property formerly known as Madame Tong’s. With one of the best backyards of any restaurant in the Hamptons, it only makes sense that the building would once again host a hybrid Restaurant/Club. It’s alleged that is exactly what will be the case with the new establishment “The New York Social Club.” According to sources the menu will be more American fair that will morph into a club scene after the dinner hours. I don’t know who the new owners are but I’m told they’re well known NYC club/restaurant owners. Look for more details in then next few days and an opening sometime in late May.

And lastly… according to CURBED.COM, Astoria’s Pomme Café is opening a at the old JLX in Sag Harbor. To many it’s better known as that doomed corner where numerous restaurants have flopped, including La Maison, JLX-Bistro, and Peter Miller’s. I apologize for my earlier blog… where I said La Maison is back… but that’s what the “manager” guy told me.

Now, we all see those free magazines tossed in the lobbies of restaurants, banks and real estate offices all over the Hamptons. Well last week my friend picked up an old copy of Edible East End which was sitting around the house and told me about a small Mexican Deli in Southampton, which features authentic homemade specialties. Well as anybody who reads this blog knows, I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD. I’ve been on a quest to find a good restaurant that serves it…. and while it’s not a restaurant the De Jesus Deli on County Rd. 39 next to PC Richard’s is a HOME RUN! If I were Blue Parrot I would buy my tamales from this little shop on the Highway and serve them. They’re AWESOME and some of the best I’ve ever had. Burritos for rock bottom prices, home made salsas and more are also available. This is an unknown find in the Hamptons. In fact, I went to a Mother’s Day party on Sunday and brought along some vegetable and Pork Tamales, they were the hit of the party. Ok, enough writing… I’m hungry now. It’s time for lunch.