Sunday, October 20, 2019

Meals and Deals in the Hamptons Off Season

food picture of lamb chops over a display of sauteed vegetablesLong Island Restaurant Week is coming up in a couple of weeks, which is always a great time to hit up Nick & Toni's where a reservation during the summer is nearly impossible to come by. But here's a secret: You can get similar deals on almost any weekday offseason at dozens of restaurants in the Hamptons--without the hype or the crowds. And chances are, you'll have better service, more choices of entrees, and a far better experience.

Here are some of Chris's and my favorites:

Plaza Cafe (Southampton) As much as I love Chef Doug's signature Seafood Shepherds Pie, I can never finish it. So I love that Plaza is offering Half Portions/Half Price during the week! (Besides, if I'm really hungry, this option allows me to try two different entrees!)

Le Chef (Southampton) Famous for its Prix Fixe option. I never miss the chance to have their housemade Country Pate with toast points.

Bistro Ete (Water Mill) SO glad to see that Chef Arie is doing a prix fixe in this lovely restaurant. Especially love his escargot! AND the fruit-filled square ice cubes that grace the water glasses. A class act!

Bell &Anchor (Noyac/Sag Harbor) This lovely place, off the beaten path on Noyac Road overlooking a marina, is always a wonderful experience. The Duroc Pork Chop on the Prix Fixe menu is exceptional, but I also love their fish.

Fresno (East Hampton) Another restaurant "off the beaten path" behind East Hampton train station, and well worth finding. On a recent visit, Chris and I both had a stellar orecchiette that was so good, it was dinner the next night too. And this was Chris's yummy wedge salad:
food picture of salad with tomato and cucumber garnish

Bobby Van's (Bridgehampton) Prix Fixe menu with eight entree options offered all night Sunday through Thursday, and Chris orders the 21-oz ribeye Every. Single. Time. It's a killer deal at $32.

Rumba (Hampton Bays) One of the most fun, laid back, Island Time restaurants on the whole East End. But take note: "Island Time" as it relates to the midweek Prix Fixe ends at 7:30 PM. So, to quote Rumba's tagline, "Get here fast...then take it slow."

Sundays on the Bay (Hampton Bays) One word: LOBSTER. Sunday's "Twins" special, Monday - Thursday all day, is renowned: Two 1-1/4 lb. lobbies, plus a veg, for $32. On the nights we can restrain ourselves from eating everything on our plates, I bring home the leftovers and make my own yummy lobster salad (a far cry from neighbor Loaves and Fishes famous $100/lb. lobster salad).

Caveat: Offseason, few restaurants are open seven days a week. However, they tend to stagger days off so that there's always a place to eat! Double-check online, or ask us when you arrive, and we can give you the most up to date information on what's available during your stay.

So score your favorite room at A Butler's Manor (check out our our FALL20 special) and join us offseason when there are wonderful deals to be had, and meals to enjoy!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Welcome home, Chris and Kim!

 Hi, Dina here!

empty stretch of ocean beach
What crowds?

We are finishing up our time here as Managing Innkeepers at A Butler’s Manor. On October 1,  beloved owners Chris and Kim will resume their role of running this magnificent B&B in the Hamptons. They have been missed by many of their returning guests.

View over Agawam Pond of large mansions on the shore
Summer "cottages" on Lake Agawam
It’s interesting for Ralph and me to look back on the experience, remembering how nervous we were in the beginning. After all, Chris and Kim left us with big shoes to fill. Their 17 years of dedication to their home, their business and their loyal guests provided us with a solid foundation, but it was up to us to maintain the high standard of service their regular clientele had grown to appreciate over the years and their new guests eagerly anticipated after reading the countless 5-star reviews on-line. Although everyone seemed genuinely happy to meet us and were happy for Chris and Kim that they were taking a break, some couldn’t help but express just a tiny bit of disappointment that they wouldn’t be seeing their old friends this year.


The good news is that unlike years past, this year all of you will get the opportunity to experience the Hamptons and the top-notch service at A Butler’s Manor throughout the entire fall season, as Chris and Kim resume operations through the December holidays.

The summer months had a unique personality, buzzing with energy as second homeowners and tourists “summer” in the Hamptons. All of the villages were bustling, parking could be a challenge and dinner reservations at some of the Hamptons "hot spots" were not always easy to score, but nobody seemed to care. It was fast-paced and fascinating and fun as only the Hamptons can be.

view of lush summer garden bed next to a sparkling poolAnd then Labor Day came and went, and the energy shifted to tranquil and calm. The weather is perfect, the prices have come down, the crowds diminished, and the restaurants are still open for business, without the frenzy.


We can’t figure out why people haven’t figured this out, so we thought we’d remind all of our readers that if summer got away from you, there’s still time! That lounge chair at our pool is just waiting for you!


One final note: Our heartfelt thanks to all of the guests we had the pleasure of hosting during our tenure as managers at A Butler’s Manor. We had a blast. We learned a lot about the Hamptons, the B&B industry, human nature and each other. And we hope our paths cross again someday.
Smiling couple enjoying a picnic on the beach with wine


And to Chris and Kim – Welcome Home!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

How will you spend your Southampton Summer?


I’m writing this blog post on the first rainy day we’ve had in a long time. I must admit, it feels good to have a break from the blazing sun and hot and humid days, and the plants and flowers are certainly grateful.
View of patio seating in a rainy garden

After so many weeks of outdoor dining, it feels unusual to serve breakfast in our formal dining room. Although fine dining certainly has its unique charm and our guests love it, serving their breakfast outside while listening to the birds sing, and watching the rabbits and squirrels frolic has become a favorite part of my day. 

What I love most is guests sharing with me their experiences of the night before – some loving the Hamptons nightlife, alive with busyness, star gazing, fancy clothes and late nights. And others enjoying the quieter places, hanging out at a local’s bar or picking up dinner at the gourmet market Citarella which is an easy walk from A Butler’s Manor, and enjoying a beach picnic or a bottle of wine with their take-out at the pool or in the English garden.
Woman on a bike in front of large Colonial house

From there our conversation typically leads to the plans for the day ahead. Guests exchange ideas that range from taking advantage of PedalShare, a bike-riding share program in Southampton Village (bikes are available in our car park!) to see the sights on two wheels, to asking Ralph for a lift to Coopers Beach in the “Butler Mobile,” a service we offer at A Butler's Manor to avoid sand in their cars and the steep parking fee.
couple in beach wear ready to climb into a station wagon for a free trip to the beach

Summer goes by so quickly. I feel the main reason for this is simple. Summer is short! Why not maximize every minute of every day? Wake up to birdsong in our king-bedded junior suite Villefranche, or enjoy Eton Court's shower from which you can view the garden and pool to jump-start your day. In the Hamptons, it’s possible to enjoy an early morning beach walk, breakfast al fresco at a fine café or here at A Butlers Manor, followed by more fabulous options to spend your days than this page allows! Round out the day with a glass of rose, a scrumptious dinner and the most magnificent sunset you’ve ever seen. 
Sunset view from A Butler's Manor

Does life get any better than that?

See you at A Butler's Manor!
--Dina


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Full bloom at the Summer Solstice!

close up of purple columbine flowers in garden
There are many aspects of my new job as an Innkeeper that I’ve been enjoying, but none as much as the awakening of the garden and how it seems to be in sync with the awakening of the Hamptons.

Man in a bowler hat carrying cleaning supplies to clean a roomWhen we arrived in early April, there wasn’t much visible life in the gardens outside my window. I felt the same way when I went out to explore the villages and hamlets that make up the Hamptons. I was surprised to find quiet streets, shuttered storefronts and farmstands that seemed to be abandoned. Thank goodness most of the wineries were alive and kicking!

Having lived in the Colorado Rockies for the past eight years, part of the reason Ralph and I took this assignment was to spend some time on the East coast again and meet wonderfully
interesting people. We also wanted to experience a change of scenery and have some fun with the Hamptons “scene.”

We didn’t have to wait long before we spotted Alan Alda dining at Bistro Ete, a small, French-inspired dining spot in Water Mill. We’ve marked our calendars to attend the annual Artists and Writers Celebrity Softball Game in East Hampton, hoping to get a glimpse of Alec Baldwin and Bill Clinton while they slug it out to benefit local organizations that provide vital human services to the East End. And there’s nothing stressful that can happen in a day that taking a walk on Cooper’s Beach can’t cure, so the salty air has been a calming balm on our busy days.
large stand of pale pink roses all in bloom around a fountain

In the meantime, like the area itself, the garden has sprung into full bloom. The roses made their appearance last week, following several weeks of multicolored iris, alliums, azaleas, and peonies! And our vegetable garden is producing much that we're using in our healthy breakfasts, including asparagus, swiss chard, and lots of herbs. Bliss!
close up of swiss chard in garden
When we’re not watching others engage in playing sports, Ralph and I are fiercely competitive with each other playing ping pong. So when we learned that the 324 Lounge in East Hampton was hosting ping pong parties every Friday night, we got really excited. We’re used to playing in our cold and damp garage in Colorado, so upgrading to a chic, hip, hot spot in the Hamptons is an exciting night out for us! Loser buys lobster rolls at Bostwick's on the Harbor!

Between hosting guests from around the world and exploring our new surroundings, the time is flying and it’s hard to believe we’re almost halfway through our season with A Butler’s Manor.
Several couples enjoying breakfast on the garden patio

Looking forward to meeting and sharing our Hamptons fun and experiences with you at A Butler's Manor, our Southampton bed and breakfast...and your home in the Hamptons!

Warmest regards,

-- Dina

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Taking the reins!

Hi, Dina here!

Plate with an egg on avocado toast, with fresh fruit and a flower
Six weeks into our new experience as Innkeepers at A Butler’s Manor and Ralph and I are finally feeling as though we’re getting in our groove. We arrived on April 1st enthusiastic, energized, a little nervous and oh, so naïve!

Kim and Chris were handing their “baby” over to us. Their pride and joy – the spectacular English gardens that Chris is deeply devoted to, their immaculate home which they have lovingly opened to guests for the past 17 years and just as precious, the guests themselves (brand new and frequent fliers) who we planned to take care of as though they were our own family. Gulp.

First, a bit of history about how we wound up as Innkeepers for 6 months...it’s something I’ve always wanted to do (hasn’t everybody?). Ralph wasn’t quite as eager as I was, at first. An introvert by nature, he wasn’t sure how he’d fare with the constant flow of people in and out of the house and daily meet and greets, but we agreed that I’d take on the lion’s share of cooking and hosting and he’d be back of the house, managing the administrative part of our new responsibility and tinkering in the garden, keeping the grounds immaculate.

Smiling group of people in garden with cherry tree in bloomNow I often find him chatting it up with guests in front of the fire, telling stories about what it’s like to own restaurants in New York and curiously asking guests to share a bit about their lives in England, Australia, Germany, New Jersey or wherever they’re from. I notice him wandering out into the dining room offering to refill coffees, just to have an excuse to ask them about their dinner the night before. He’s a natural.
close up of bleeding hearts flowers in garden 
Together we agreed that we’ve always wanted our lives to be a series of adventures. We’ve lived up to that promise to each other, sometimes going out on a limb to help the other follow a dream. In the end, it wasn’t hard to convince him that living in the Hamptons for 6 months, hosting interesting people and being part of their Hampton’s vacation experience was going to be fun and would satisfy our craving for something new.

Living in a ski town in Colorado enticed many of our friends and family to come visit often, so we are natural hosts and enjoy the experience. This adventure is a genuine extension of who we are and Kim and Chris have masterfully equipped us with all of the tools we need to succeed.

As they handed over “the baby” and headed west, we felt like new parents slowly learning to rely on our own instincts and putting procedures in place that helped us function as real Innkeepers. Once a guest asked me if I felt like I was “playing house.” I smiled and replied, “Yes, that’s exactly how it feels!” And I don’t mind one bit foraging the garden in the pouring rain for flowers to decorate my breakfast plates . . .

Woman in a rain slicker cutting flowers from the garden

It’s early May and still off-season, quiet and calm, but not for long. The calm before the storm as they say. Because we’re still new at this, the Manor has felt busy, but we know better. Very soon, the Hamptons will be in full swing as tourists flock to enjoy the pristine beaches, charming villages and renowned art galleries. They’ll spend their afternoons enjoying the scenery at the festive wineries or at the Montauk Music Festival. They’ll spend their evenings reveling in the top-notch restaurants and the brand new “pop-ups” shops and eateries that make cameo appearances during the busiest summer months.

stone steps to a sparkling pool, cherry blossoms in the foregroundOur phone is ringing off the hook as people secure their accommodation at this sweet spot, using it as a haven to return to after their full and fun days of driving out to Montauk or the North Fork or using this cool article as a guide to fill their days, Memorial Day weekend and well into the summer.


We’re grateful to Kim and Chris for their trust and for this unique opportunity. We’re eager to make new friends, explore this fabulous area and make  A Butler’s Manor a home for ourselves as well as our guests for the summer. 

We look forward to meeting you when you visit our Southampton bed and breakfast!

--Dina Ferrante, Manager

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Expanding our team and your experience!

A Butler's Manor opened for the season on April 1, and the following day we toasted Dina and Ralph, ABM's new managers, who will take the helm here for the 2019 spring and summer season.

Smiling couple enjoying wine near the fireplace
It's been a jam-packed, intense couple of weeks as we've been training them in all aspects of running ABM. But it has truly also been a lot of fun. We find the four of us are very simpatico and training flows from early morning coffee service into shared dinner preparations, underscored by continual conversation. We joke that we've been living a communal life these past two weeks ("Wait! Whose apron is this?"..."I think that was my coffee cup...") but amazingly, despite the close quarters and the level of detail, I think I can speak for us all that it has really been a fun, enjoyable experience.

Woman holding plates of breakfast for displayDina has lots of fresh ideas for yummy, healthy breakfasts. Ralph is all about making things run smoothly and efficiently. Both are interested, engaged and on point...and both have the passion for creating awesome guest experiences.

Which is why we are so pleased to hand over the reins to Dina and Ralph for the next six months, absolutely confident that our guests will have every bit the same careful, personalized experience during the spring and summer of 2019 as they have had throughout our previous seventeen (!!) seasons.

couple in front of front door, wavingI can't wait for you to meet them! Join us at our Southampton Bed and Breakfast and see what we mean!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Our top 6 reasons to visit the Hamptons out of season

couple and dog on a beach watching the sunset

Early Spring is an excellent time to come to the Hamptons as a relaxing getaway. Here are our favorite reasons why:

Large mansion overlooking a pond on a misty morning
1) If you enjoy seeing beyond the hedges at the big estates in the Hamptons, this is your chance. Most of those privet hedges are deciduous... which means that now they’re bare and won’t leaf in again in full until sometime in May. And chances are you’ll spot a few deer grazing on those estate lawns where no one is around to chase them away.

2)The trendy seasonal restaurants haven’t come to town yet, but our award-winning year-round places such as Plaza Cafe, Bistro Ete, 1770 House and Pierre's are open and won’t be crowded. (Now's your chance to get into Nick & Toni’s.)

Large house on a sand dune3) Nope, there’s not a whole lot of nightlife, though you can catch a set at Steven Talkhouse or a concert at Bay Street Theater on weekends. And while the summer shops are still polishing their pop-up retail spots for the Memorial Day reopening, you can still check out some of our best, such as Hildreth’s, Rumrunner, Topiare and Sylvester’s for great household finds, or D.J Hart, J. McLaughlin, Chico's, Tenet or Jildor for clothing. Or, even better, check out off-season prices on consignment couture at Collette’s.

4) Bundle up and take a long walk on an empty beach, and pick out your fantasy beach house. Picture the parties you're going to have in it in the summer.

couple holding hands across a dining table in a restaurant, small wrapped package beside her plate
5) Oh, and wine! Nearly all of the wineries on both forks are open every day, all year. Without the crowds, it feels like you're having your own private tasting.

6) Most of all, the quiet season is a time to renew, recharge your batteries and most of all, reconnect. Has it been way too long since you've had the chance to look into each other’s eyes and really mean that “I love you?”

Now's your chance! And to sweeten the deal, we're offering a Spring Fling special: Stay for any two nights in April 2019 and we'll take 20% off your room rate! 

At A Butler’s Manor, we look forward to being your restorative getaway. Call to make your reservation today!