Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A touch of East Hampton in Newport Beach

In the middle of vacation, a yummy little reminder of home.

I was at a book club meeting last month in Laguna Beach when a fellow foodie here asked me if I'd heard of Babette's. No context given.

"There's a well-known organic restaurant in East Hampton called Babette's, know for its creative breakfasts and healthy, often vegetarian options," I answered, mystified. "Why?"

"It just opened a second location here in Newport Coast."

Really? I had to check that out. Sure enough, closer to our winter abode than the original Babette's is to A Butler's Manor, it was too good a chance to overlook, not the least because we haven't been able to have brunch at Babette's since we opened A Butler's Manor in 2002 (as of course we're cooking and serving our own breakfast during that time),

So the other day Chris and I headed up Pacific Coast Highway to the brand-new West Coast enclave of the East Hampton favorite with the most recent (forwarded) copy of the Southampton Press tucked under Chris's arm.

Babette's Newport Coast is quite roomy and gorgeous, in the off-white coastal California style that is 180 degrees from the small, casually beachy theme of the original on Newtown Lane. We opted for the patio, which featured a gas firepit that was lit in spite of the 60+ degree exterior temps (but ended up being extinguished at the request of a woman seated closest to it). Stellar service. The menu, I was pleased to see, was almost the same as its delicious East End counterpart, with a few nods to local specialties. I therefore had a Newport Omelette, and Chris opted for the Ace of Clubs sandwich, which certainly lived up to its name. And the accompanying sweet potato fries, done with a herb blend, were the best I have ever had.

We were pleased that owner Barbara Layton was in town and happy to see fellow Hamptons refugees. We passed along our copy of the Press and spent some time discussing the similarities and differences between the two resort areas and the people within each. I think all of us felt a little homesick.

Now we can check in with a favorite restaurant on both coasts. What's next -- the Golden Pear?

This isn't the first time we've encountered folks from back East while on our sabbatical in California. Last winter on our way down to the beach, we passed a woman walking her dog who takes yoga with me...in Southampton. In January we were dining at Nirvana Grille in Laguna Beach when we recognized Steve and Miriam, guests of A Butler's Manor who live in NYC.

It's a big country, but a small world. (Sorry, couldn't resist...)

Incidentally, we'll reopen for the 2015 season on Friday, March 13. See you then!




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