Eating on the East End

A major part of summer in the Hamptons is finding out which restaurants are still around, and which of your favorite spots unfortunately didn’t make it through the winter. Although it’s sad to see them go, the restaurants that take over always bring their best to the table. Here are a few of this summer’s shining stars:

Fois Gras sushi at Kozu, Southampton.

If you have been to the Hamptons and never ate at Zach Erdem’s claim to fame, 75 Main, were you really even there? From that very same owner, a new restaurant has emerged. Kozu serves Peruvian-inspired Japanese cuisine on Southampton’s Main Street. The chef from New York’s Nobu will also be joining him on this new venture. A few of their classics in the making are the yellowtail jalapeño tartar with smoked tomato ponzu, and the “corn pudding:” a mix of summer corn and lobster salad topped with uni. As to be expected, Erdem’s latest establishment doesn’t just offer you food. For those who prefer to drink their dinner, or dance off the sushi you just consumed, a nightclub opens in the building hosting famous DJs from all around the world. If you’ve accidentally had too much fun, Erdem has situated Hotel ZE with nine five-star hotel rooms on the property. They do have a three-night minimum stay, so make sure all that fun is worth the next two nights as well.

Dumplings at Jue Lan Club, Southampton.
Dumplings at Jue Lan Club, Southampton.

For those of you who look way too good in a bikini to enjoy Chinese food, Jue Lan Club is about to change your mind. In fact, it’s been referred to as a Chinese restaurant for people that don’t like Chinese food. The dishes are light, and never as greasy as those noodles that come in delivery Tupperware. The name comes from a secret Chinese art society back in the 1930s and aptly applies to the restaurant. The back room of the restaurant is the Barn-Gruin Gallery, which transforms into a nightclub later in the evening. Their dinner menu features dishes such as the drunken sea bass and shrimp crystal dumpling that make your mouth start to water just at the description. If you plan to visit on a weekend, don’t miss their “Bottomless Brunch.” It’s quite a step up from Denny’s and you get unlimited mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, or screwdrivers. I could not think of a better reason to get up in the morning.

The Greenwich restaurant interior, Watermill.
The Greenwich restaurant interior, Watermill.

On the tamer, but still exciting side of things, The Greenwich has opened up in Watermill. This American eatery sits on the same property where Red Stix used to be. Though the menu doesn’t bring never-before-seen combinations to the table, the sound of organic truffle chicken or the presentation of their scallops still makes me want to sit in Route 27 traffic to get there. Their cocktail menu does in fact make you wonder, in the best possible way, how your drink will taste when you receive it. I don’t know about you, but I have never tried lavender bitters and kaffir lime leaves in my cocktails.

Deconstructed Enchiladas at Union Cantina, Southampton.
Deconstructed Enchiladas at Union Cantina, Southampton.

From the owners of the Southampton Social Club comes upscale Mexican food under the name of Union Cantina. The restaurant boasts three bars, one of which carries over one hundred different types of tequila. For all of our sakes, I hope that one is the easiest to find. Located in Southampton, this menu portrays your usual Mexican orders in a bit of a different way. Do you usually order the enchiladas? Here they’re presented deconstructed, though it does nothing to diminish the taste. If your regular order consists of tacos and quesadillas, your usual just got an upgrade. They have delectable ingredients like fresh lobster and truffled cheese. Not to worry, the Union Nachos still seem to consist of 2,000 calories topped with extra cheese.

Topping Rose House Restaurant, Bridgehampton.
Topping Rose House Restaurant, Bridgehampton.

Already a classic in the Hamptons, the Restaurant at Topping Rose House has risen to a new level of stardom this season. Heavyweight chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten—three Michelin star chef from Jean Georges in New York—acquired the restaurant recently. It was long rumored he might have his eye on the place after he visited the property at the end of last summer. He completely made over the menu of the already beloved restaurant. This Bridgehampton dinner staple has transitioned into a much more cosmopolitan restaurant with dishes such as their sweet pea guacamole with warm tortillas, and grilled beef tenderloin with miso-mustard sauce. Guests should simply not be allowed to exit before enjoying the basil panna cotta with passion fruit sorbet. Hamptonites should all pray that this management could weather the winters better than the last. No one wants to see Jean-Georges part ways with his new Hamptons establishment.

Chocolate dessert at Arbor, Montauk.
Chocolate dessert at Arbor, Montauk.

Montauk is having a moment right now and its best restaurant addition of the summer is definitely Arbor. In the former Ciao space, Arbor boasts fantastic Mediterranean fare and a lively outdoor bar surrounded by a garden—perfect for pre-dinner drinks. The sunken main dining room also serves as the wine cellar. Surrounded by endless bottles of wine, you will also discover that a high tech wine on tap system surrounds you. This interactive experience lets you switch from one glass to the next—just incase you weren’t a fan of the glass of rosé your host initially ordered for the table. In addition to any adult’s wine dispenser fantasy, they serve incredible food from raw bar delights—crab dijonaise, to entrees favorites—gambas skewers with braised fennel and lemon. I guarantee you’ll make the drive out to Montauk more often with this waterside venue as an option.

Unless you are Alec Baldwin, don’t try waltzing into any of these restaurants on a Saturday without calling ahead. You will oh-so-politely be told to go away, and have to pick something up at Citarella on the way home.

I wish you all the happiest Hampton weekends, with 8 p.m. reservations for all!