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.


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?
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.”


Break out the pastels and the whites… it’s now officially ok to wear your fancy duds!  Well as of Sunday anyway.   So after the bunny has dropped the basket, where are some great places to wear your best bonnet?   Well look no further, Hamptons Chatter is here to help.  Here are my top 3 suggestions:
Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor (, 631-725-1810)  will have an a la carte brunch menu from 11 to 4 featuring such holiday favorites as leg of lamb and Eggs Benedict.   They’ll also have plenty of champagne and mimosas to help with that headache from the all the little kiddies sugar high!
So CUTE.. and hopefully not on any menu!
Topping Rose in Bridgehampton (, 631-537-0870) will also have an al carte brunch menu featuring everything Brioche Donuts to Painted Hill Short Rib hash from 11:30 to 3p.   They’ll also have activities for the kids and a giant Easter Bunny around for photographs.  You’ll be able to order EXTRA champagne without drama.  Earplugs will not be provided.
Barons Cove in Sag harbor (, 631-725-2101) will be hosting an Easter egg hunt for the kids… so hopefully they’ll be outside.   Brunch will be served from 11 to 4p and feature all your holiday favorites including lamb, roast beef and rabbit stew.  OK, actually there is no rabbit stew…. that would be kind of cruel.   Don’t cha think!?    I mean… “Thank you Easter Bunny for the chocolate… now jump into the pot!?”

Speaking of Easter Bunnies, they need to be watching their eggs and hops these days.   While I’m not sure if it’s a real warning or where the heck it originates, there is a message circulating on the internet and Facebook about there being a larger number of Hawks this season on the east coast.   The alleged warning has been issued by “Park Rangers” and “Veterinarians” to pet owners who have dogs or cats that weigh less then 12 pounds.


Apparently our small furry friends run the risk of being swooped away.   I actually had a friend who swore that happened to her pet a few years back but I question that particular incident and attribute it more to her 3 martini breakfast.    “I saw it… my dog flew away!”   Kind of scary considering it was a German Shepard. Anyway, all kidding aside I did some digging online and while the “warning” may possibly be bogus, the risk is actually quite real.    But before you panic and call your local veterinarian for advice or veteran with a gun on addressing the potential problem, just remember these birds of prey are FEDERALLY PROTECTED!      So what can you do?   Well here is are a few tips for keeping your pets safe.

-Keep them leashed and supervise when outdoors.
-Remove bird feeders.   They attract small birds and mice which in tern attract raptors.
-Put hhiny objects that move out of the yard, such as silver streamers.   They will scare off the birds.
-Build a pen with a wire mesh for your pet to play.
So keep your pets safe, have a great weekend and remember SUMMER IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER.  Which means traffic.   Yeah!

Holiday Hangover … How to make the Hamptons Happy… Again!

I’m back after the holiday week/weekend.  It wasn’t that I was lying back and taking it easy.   In fact, it continues to be for me along with most real estate agents, one of the busiest seasons in recent memory.    So, I took a breather from the blog and immersed myself in the summer of 2013.

While every year people seem to say the traffic and the crowds are worse than the year before, this year they’re right.  It’s a war out there!   But there is a chance for peace in the Hamptons and I’m making my attempt for a Nobel Peace Prize for my fine work right here with Hamptons Chatter.     So how can we turn our little piece of heaven into a shangri-la?
First of all, you avoid the places that make your blood pressure boil.   Last year, I had one of my most successful blogs ever talking about the most unfriendly places in the Hamptons (Hamptons Hostility 7/13/12).    But this year,  I’ve learned to be more of a “glass is half full” kind of guy.  I’m going to offer solutions for the problems of the east end.   So here they are in no particular order, my “pointers” for making a happier Hamptons.

Terror awaits the hungry diner at Topping Rose!

1)   Improve the Service !   –  Last Monday, I went to the Topping Rose in Bridgehampton.  In case you weren’t aware, this is celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s new restaurant at the spa and Inn of the same name.   While the food was actually dynamite the service made me want to go postal.   Now, I don’t mind mediocre service when I’m at a…. say… Friendly’s or TGIFriday’s.     But when you’re paying top dollar for the food, you shouldn’t have to wait 50 minutes after your reservation time just to get seated and another 10 minutes to get water! UGH!   I’m sorry throwing a skimpy cheese plate on the house doesn’t compensate for getting dinner at 10:40pm on a 9pm reservation.      Guys, people are spending the bucks on the food and the booze so hire the extra bus person and the extra cook.  Also, it’s not a bad idea to admit you screwed up and not blame it on the other patrons!   Other than the Topping Rose, this is also good suggestion for Serafina (updated… had dinner there tonight… AWFUL service and no air-conditioning) and The Living Room.       By the way, I know none of you are going to listen to me so go try it yourself!

The devil is in the machinery!

2) Get Rid of Those Auto Check Outs and HIRE SOME PEOPLE! –  Here’s my ancient Chinese secret, if you need more Calgon on the weekend, wait.    Besides the way the lines move at the K-Mart, CVS and Walbaum’s stores in South and East Hampton it’s quicker to order it from Amazon!    I know, I keep harping about this but at least hire some extra check out people.   Those scanners don’t work!!!    Besides, there are some people who these things just scare the bejeezus out of.  It’s the equivalent to them of appearing on stage!  They sweat!  They panic!   They freeze… then they freeze the machines!    It’s like Lucy in the chocolate factory.   I like my machines in movies…  example “The Terminator 2”.. not when I buy my milk.

3) Get Ample Parking and Force  Commuting! –  As anyone who’s been to Soul Cycle, Fly-Wheel or any of the gyms out here knows, half the work out is finding a parking space.   I’ve actually heard reports of fist fight in one particular spin studio!!!  Blood is not a good color on Lululemon!   So here is my idea… ride your bikes to spin class people!!! DUH!   You don’t have to do two classes this way and

It’s my space and class is starting!!!

you’re actually helping to save the planet (watch that Al Gore movie it will explain)!    On top of that gym/spin studio owners could help themselves by offering incentives to patrons that commute!   How about free water for everyone who comes in a car of two or more.  I know free water… it still cracks me up I’m willing to pay $2.50 for water!   My grandmother is rolling her eyes in her grave every time I do it!   But back to the topic… how about at least a free stain remover for those who have blood stains from the fights in the parking lot!!?  I know, it’s a brilliant idea!    OK, there it is my treatise on how to make the Hamptons happy again!  Have a great summer everybody!!!