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.

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.”