Monday, June 10, 2013

New Restaurants: news and reviews

New season always equals a new crop of restaurants here in the Hamptons. Some may stay with us for years, others which will fade away after Labor Day, following the sun and money to Florida.

In recent weeks, Chris and I have checked out a couple of new entrants here in Southampton, both of which are literally walking distance from us, and next door to each other. It's my hope both of these will become Southampton institutions. In one case, the restaurant is already an institution in New York City.

The Southampton Social Club is a gorgeous building with a large patio and sprawling lawn out back that is primarily known for the nightlife (beginning at around 10 PM) that remains their core business. Managing partner Ian Stone and chef Scott Kampf have upped the ante in order to introduce the rest of us non-clubbers to a lovely space with a lovely meal (and developing some positive PR by way of a decent restaurant might go a long way towards easing local mistrust and antagonism for the late night summer crowds). 

I'd seen ads locally promoting the restaurant, but figured the cuisine was geared towards late night munchies. But in late April, having read several good reviews of the place on TripAdvisor and Yelp, we tried it out. 

The large, classically decorated dining room is lovely and serene, and the menu offerings looked delectable...and were. The crab cake, which had been noted in severeal of the reviews I'd read, was wonderful...so much crab it was amazing it held together. I ordered it again when we dined at Southampton Social Club for the second time last week, this time bringing four friends. The six of us passed around each appetizer and entree for group consensus, and we loved it all. Mussels, the Caesar salad, the zucchini chips with aioli...yum.  We tried the full gamut of entrees..mahi mahi, steak, chicken, and the vegetable Napoleon, and found all absolutely delicious. Service was attentive and perhaps because we dined relatively early in the evening, the noise level was moderate. A great night, all around. We plan to be back, often, and recommend to guests.

The second and more famous addition to Southampton's culinary lineup is Delmonico's Southampton, which opened in the corner location on Elm Street and Railroad Plaza that for years held the restaurant Savanna's. Chris and I were able to attend their grand opening, which those of us who have been in the trade know can be a little rocky when a restaurant is still working the bugs out of their kitchen and table service. 

Impressively, this was hardly the case at Delmonico's, which is an institution on Beaver Street downtown in NYC and has been since 1837, billing itself the oldest restaurant in America. (I'd thought Antoine's, in New Orleans, held that title, but that vernerable fixture of the French Quarter opened three years later in 1840.) 

Delmonico's is a known primarily as a steakhouse, but among its fabled firsts include the invention of Eggs Benedict, Chicken a la King (originally Chicken a la Keene, after a patron), and Lobster Newberg. So I had to try the appetizer called Crab Cake Benedict. This was a single crab cake, topped with a poached quail's egg (sweet!) and finished with a special hollandaise. Presentation was marvelous and the taste sublime.  All four of us opted for Delmonico's Signature Steak. We've had steak at Smith & Wollenski, Ruth Chris's, the Palm, Bobby Van's, and other known steakhouses. This was the best steak I've ever had. 

Noise level was exuberant, but I was very pleased to note that the decor now includes carpet, a feature sadly lacking when it was Savanna's, which will help keep the noise level somewhat in check. (It's still a challenge due to the floor to ceiling windows on the street side.)

Congrats and welcome to Delmonico's managing directors Nicholas and Dennis...we hope for a long tenure and years of satisfied patrons, from A Butler's Manor and beyond! 

Bon appetit!

Quote of the Day:  The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook. --Julia Child