ClIFFS NOTES FOR HAMPTONS DINING!

Spring has sprung here in the Hamptons.    The crocus have bloomed, the trees have buds and new restaurants are popping up everywhere.   But before I go into what’s new, let’s talk about what is no longer around.   Let’s bow our heads for a moment of silence and say something kind about a few of the shuttered establishments.

Old Stove Pub-They really knew how to kill a cow twice.

Hudson Blue Crab House – They employed a lot of people in witness protection.

EMP Summer House – I always knew who was there every minute… thanks Instagram.

Bay Burger – The Jazz nights were very jazzy.

The Princess Diner – It was better than prison food.

Now onto the brighter side of things.   There are more than a few new restaurants coming to the east end this summer.    One bit of news is that we’ll have not one but TWO new Mexican restaurants coming to town.   One is from the folks at Nick and Toni’s and La Fondita.     It’s called Coche Comedor and from what I read on Edible East End, it’s going to be amazing.  You can read the details by clicking here.   Although, they said they were opening in April, my “sources” tell me it’s actually opening later this week which believe it or not is MAY!    I’m sure it will be great and besides I’ve always been a fan of Commodores (especially with Lionel).

The other Mexican is an upgrade from La Superica in Sag Harbor.   I actually liked the food at Superica but found

Coche
The Old Honest Diner is now Coche Comedor

the party atmosphere (which often included the staff) a little frustrating and too much for even this hipster.  Anyway, the folks from Sen in Sag Harbor are upping the ante, renovating and hoping to open K-Pasa by this memorial day.  The Sag Harbor Express broke the big news back in February but the clever name was just announced recently.   K-Pasa…. Get it!?!?!  Personally I would have preferred if it were named “Tequila  Mockingbirds” or “Taco bout It” or “Guacstar” or … Ok, I’ll stop.   You can read more about by clicking the link to the article here.

But enough about Mexican, this is the Hamptons…. where is the seafood?   Well for those who like to have their fish and filet it too there will be Ed’s Lobster Bar in Sag Harbor.   Going into the slot formerly occupied by Bay Burger on Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike.   The building will be refitted to resemble a sea side cottage and feature both indoor and outdoor seating.    My idea was to keep it Bay Burger but add roller skating waiters and have trays for the car window.   But hey there’s a reason I’m not in the restaurant business.    Apparently Ed’s is a big deal in SOHO and they’ll be bringing the same cool vibe to here in the Hamptons.   If you want more details, you can read more about Ed’s in 27 East by clicking here.

Finally, some major switcharooing in East Hampton.   Hold your hats for this one…. The folks behind Bay Kitchen in East Hampton which used to be Bostwick’s are heading to the site of the former Princess Diner in Southampton.   The new establishment will be

Silver Linings
The Princess has left the diner!

called Silver Lining Diner.    The menu will be a bit more upscale than your average diner and you can read more about it here.   Ok, are you following me?    So, now the place that was Bay Kitchen for the past few years and The Boat House before that will become Bostwick’s once again!   Meanwhile, Bostwick’s which is currently on Rt. 27 at the former Snow Flake will stay put and remain Bostwick’s Chowder House.   So you’ll have two Bostwick’s to choose from this summer.

Oh and one last thing, if you’ve driven by the site of the former Agave, Mercado and Hudson Blue Crab House you may have noticed there has been some renovating going on.  Rumor has it they’ll soon be reopening as the Gawanus Canal Lobster Company!   Just kidding,  I’m not actually sure what’s going on but I heard a new restaurant will be going in the spot, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.    Also, Michael’s restaurant in Springs is relocating to the site of their other location known as The Blend on Three Mile Harbor Rd, East Hampton.

That’s all folks.

 

 

 

 

 

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!?

SOMETHING BREWING IN SOUTHAMPTON… AND PLEASE DON’T TELL ME WHAT ZILLOW SAYS ABOUT YOUR HOUSE!

Something Brewing.. time to change the label!

I can barley stand it!   It has some folks hops-ing mad!   Apparently the spuds will no longer be flowing on Bowden Square.   In spite of an announcement back in October that the Southampton Publick House would be staying put at the current location, word has gotten out that folks will soon have to fasten their beer goggles in a new location.    Since 1996 the brewery and restaurant have been a staple around town but it seems the new building owners have other plans.    According to some local insiders, the location will soon be home to a “high end Mexican Restaurant.”     Now if you’ve ever read this blog before… that’s a huge deal for me yet I hate to see an old favorite move to somewhere new.     While the Publick house will go on… like Celine Dion’s heart…. it will according to insiders have to be in a new location.   Sometimes a little change will do you good.

Oh is that the blood rushing to your head?

Now for a little advice.   If you want to send any real estate agent’s boiling blood further to their head just say the following sentence, “BUT Zillow said my house is worth X!”   It’s the bane of many a real estate agent and brokers existence.   In fact, The Los Angles Times  recently tackled the issue of “Zestimantes” (Zillow’s estimate) and how many claim they’re wildly inaccurate.    In fact, I have to say part of the big problem with Zillow’s “formula” is that it can’t really take into account factors like condition and location (waterfront, south of the highway, village).    So how inaccurate are these “Zestimates?”  Well the CEO of Zillow was recently quoted as saying they’re “a good starting point” and have a “median error rate of about 8%.”   Obviously this error rate varies in different markets and Zillow even says so at the bottom of the Zestimates page.     While I couldn’t locate the margin in our area, I can tell you that my own personal home fluctuated by about $5,000,000 in a period of 6 months.    Now, I know you think Hamptons Chatter just rakes in the money but the initial high estimate they gave my home was crazy.   I’d move out in hours if I could get that number tomorrow!    Yep, I would guess their error rate in the Hamptons is a heck of a lot more than a 8%.   It’s a big miss in the Hamptons… like an Ishtar big miss!  A “Missestimate” if you will.     So the take away from all of this… talk to an agent or do your homework (Zillow.com is a great source for closed prices) and don’t try let some silicon valley geek tell you what your home is worth.   Besides,  how could you put a price on that “Sistine Chapel” painting on your master bedroom ceiling?

 

A Toast for Tacos…. Plus, Hamptons Hostility 2014!

For those who know me, thanks for your well wishes.   Sorry the blog takes a back seat to life but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.    So now that let’s get back to the “Chatter.”

Well traffic is terrible, temperatures and tempers are rising and the Hamptons is now entering into what I affectionally call “Seasonus Horribus.”  But while some folks find this time of year a bit challenging others relish in the chaos.      Yes, there are folks who miss the city and are pining away… and not the kind with sap… for a little hostility and confrontation.   Yes, it’s the 2014 edition of Hamptons Hostility!!!   The top 5 places where you can be as nasty as you want to be and where a middle finger is just another way of saying hello!  So here in my humble opinion, are the top five nastiest locations for this year….

1) 7-11 Manorville –  While technically not in the Hamptons, it’s definitely a ritual stop for more than a few city dwellers on their way out east.   My experience involved the doubling of coffee cups and the managers instance that I pay and additional $0.50!  “But sir, the sleeve doesn’t prevent the cup from getting crushed in the cars cup holder.”   So, while the manager didn’t care for my explanation and threw me more attitude than Lizzy Grubman in a parking lot (you would have thought I dropped a 2 gallon Big Gulp on the floor) I left both cups on his counter.   Fifty cents for an extra cup, really?!  That is extortion in my opinion and not nice.   I’m now doing my stops at the Cumberland Farms.

2) The intersection of CR39A and Rt 27! – The place where allowing a car to merge in front of you is as welcome as a root canal or IRS audit!  It’s also totally racist where German sedans have no tolerance for American hybrids or trucks (and vice versa).    I could tell you the way to avoid this area but why would I want to ruin my good thing!!!

Yes, I know this is the one in Riverhead!

3) CVS Pharmacy (Southampton & East Hampton) – It’s the Motor Vehicles of pharmacies!   While I have no complaints about the general staff, you know the human cashiers etc.   The pharmacy has long lines and an indifferent staff that really gets annoyed with questions.   But if that wasn’t enough,  try to deal with their automated phone system!   Lord help you if you need an Epi pen in a hurry!

4) Cavinola’s Cheese Shop (Sag Harbor)- Yes, apparently Ina Garten thinks this shop is the big cheese..  but I think it’s more tres fromage! The selection is actually extensive and good but please don’t dare question the prices.  When I made the mistake of grimacing at one particular price, I got an annoyed response of “then don’t buy it.”   Wow, that was nice!  So guess what… I didn’t …..and that cheese stood alone!   I then took a quick trip to Schivoni’s who also has a great selection for a fraction of the price!    I mean, I shop at Round Swamp Farm so I’m not afraid of prices but at least be friendly!  What do I need to bring a camera crew!?

 

5) Nick & Toni’s (the bar) – This is not about the restaurant or the employees.  It’s about the patrons who sit at the bar.   If you spend any time in the Hamptons there are going to be nights when nobody is around and you want to go out and mingle and have some dinner.  Well if you’re sitting at the bar at N&T’s bring a book.     The atmosphere there is so chilly you’ll feel like a Kardashian walking into the  Maidstone Club.  But hey, sometimes you wanna go where (signing the “Cheers” theme) “nobody wants to know your name.

Honorable Mention:  Rushmeyer’s in Montauk.   The perfect place to hang if you’re going out on daddy’s credit card.     It’s like “Logan’s Run” meets the Hamptons.

I’ve been whining with my Sancerre for years now about the state of Mexican cuisine here in the Hamptons.      While we still don’t have a decent sit down restaurant (yes, I revisited Blue Parrot one more time, it was awful and expensive -$20 burrito with what I’m pretty sure was microwaved chicken) that serves a full south of the border menu we do have another entry into the good… actually really good food to go category.   Formerly of the Wainscott Seafood shop, chef Peter Ambrose has taken his successful Endless Summer brand and opened a new taco shop at the home of the former “Food and Co.”
“Pete’s Endless Summer Taco Shop” is a welcome addition to east end cuisine.    The menu which features his famous fish tacos, along with such delicacies as braised duck, nori brined applewood barbecue chicken (which blew me away… really good) and vegan selections is fairly basic but full of gourmet varieties of the Mexican treats.    There are no fajitas or burritos on the menus but there’s plenty here to choose from and at a really reasonable prices, especially for the Hamptons.     Prices start at $5 per taco or 3 for $13-$16 and make this easy to go down.   Fries, salads, fresh guacamole and home made grilled tomato salsa are also available.    If you want more information go to www.peterambrose.com or call them at 631-527-5515.    Pete’s Endless Taco Shop is located at 283 Pantigo Road, East Hampton.   Also make sure to try the deserts from Jennifer Corzzo… delicious!