Summer 2013 Preview: The Year the Hamptons Grew Up

With Memorial Day weekend charging down at us like a set of double overhead barrels at the now slightly less comfortable Ditch Plains, there’s little time for us to wax poetic about every little detail that’s happened in the Hamptons since our pre-preseason breakdown back in March, and there is even less time for you to read it, because nobody wants to be mincing about on the internet during the best long weekend of the summer. Not even us. So let’s get into it shall we? (Click on any bolded venue name for the BlackBook Guides review.)

All the cultural metrics that we’ve pored through point to one overarching theme: this summer, the Hamptons will be a little more mature. Not in a bad way, mind you. There will still be moments where the new threads you bought that day are soaked down the front with jungle juice before the sun has even gone down, and you’ll still find yourself in a circle goading a shirtless 20-something in board shorts and a starter cap who seems to have a Kool-Aid mustache to do something massively risky/painful/hilarious. Rest assured those moments will still happen, even if Town Board fun-sponges don’t want it happening at Indian Wells Beach.

The real difference is that last season the Montauk bar and restaurant scene blew up like a grow-in-water toy placed in pint glass of 151 and then put in a microwave. This year that model of insouciance and everybody’s-gone-wild attitude seems to have shifted. Who knows, maybe we’re all still a little hung over.

Rather than new Montauk restaurant bars with sailor tattoo flash painted on the walls and miniature buoys for cocktail swizzles, the restaurant scene is catering more toward those of us who want a great meal but don’t want to wait 40 minutes to use a port-a-john.

So what defines a more “sophisticated” restaurant opening? Delmonico’s of Southampton has moved into the old Savanna’s space on Elm Street. Bringing out some of the classic fare from their old-boys club in the Financial District (Est. 1837), the Hamptons outpost will be supplementing their traditional menu with more locally-sourced seafood dishes to suitably lighten the repertoire for summer in Southampton.

Longtime local favorite the New Paradise Café has been replaced by a new venture by Michael Gluckman called Madison & Main, a moderately priced, self avowed kid-friendly restaurant that has a new outdoor back deck and a raw bar (take that, American Hotel). Throw a couple dry aged steaks or a split lobster on their wood-fired grill and we’ll be there in a heartbeat.

A little farther down Main Street in Sag Harbor, Jeff Resnick and his partners Tora and Jesse Matsuoka have rebranded Phao into the nouveau American gastropub the Cuddy that does exactly what a traditional gastropub should: couple pub-style comfort foods with a high level of culinary execution. The redesigned interior and hand-crafted cocktail list enhance an atmosphere that swaddles you with reclaimed wood, artisanal cocktails, and food that’s at once recognizable and familiar, yet refined and delicate. Kind of like a ‘70s-era Ford pickup, but with a modern interior from Bentley.

What we have literally been drooling over is Fresh, the new spot by chef/owner Todd Jacobs. Jacobs, whose resume includes the American Hotel and Tierra Mar, has opened a restaurant that will have the most locally obsessed farm-to-table fanatics—be they vegans or carnivores—swooning. Everything they serve is as organic as ocean air, and you can build dishes to your own tastes and even control portion size. Even Michael "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" Pollan would be thrilled.

Out in party central Montauk, lemonade/juice kings Sweet’tauk has partnered with Brooklyn’s Red Hook Lobster Pound in a total beach-treat paradise that (gasp) doesn’t even serve alcohol. This joint venture will reopen the rapidly vanishing niche of “places I’d go for lunch in Montauk with my spouse and our three small children without having to worry about overhearing some loud and filthily intriguing conversation regarding last night’s festive romp.” Also, although we have no issues with them, a little friendly competition might incite a lobster roll gap with The Lobster Roll and The Clam Bar. This we’d like to see.

Before moving on to the few instances of jeroboams, sparklers, and, in one wildly hyperbolic bit of insanity (or brilliance), parachutes, there is this thing we heard about.

Got 50 G’s sitting around in your sock drawer? Love wine? Well hot damn, you’ll love this: billionaire owner of the Houston Rockets Leslie Alexander is opening a wine club/storage cellar/rich-folks-need-hobbies-too club in Bridgehampton called Société du Vin. $50,000 (or £32,000, FYI) will allow you access to the 630-square meter facility, which was designed by Hollywood set designer–and Gerard Butler’s Manhattan loft designer–Elvis Restaino. See how that works?

Why, you may ask? Apparently Mr. Alexander felt that none of the other doomsday billionaire wine bunkers provided a convenient way to engender both storage and the ability to share with friends. Seriously? For around $10,000 we could install a really big wine fridge in our office and pay for a dedicated “wine line” to call our friends and invite them over. In any case, we’re pretty sure this won’t encourage the 1% to come East and start filling funnels with Chateau la Tour.

So what about those of us without scads of money who still want to visit the Hamptons and get filthy on overpriced bottles of vino? Well for you kind sirs and gentle ladies, we have Sienna Restaurant & Ultralounge. Picking up where Beaumarchais left off in the multipurpose club space/restaurant that is 44 Three Mile Harbor Rd. Sienna is bringing the UES’s TBar Steak & Lounge, sprinkling in a dash of the boozy brunch we all know so well, and adding it in equal parts to a Pink Elephant cocktail after 11pm. If you think we’re being snarky, consider this: all jokes aside, Pink Elephant’s David Sarner and Robert Montwaid really do know how to throw an awesome party, so while it’s fun to mock that poor, bewildered girl with smeared eye makeup rummaging through her broken Fendi bag asking everyone for a ride home or a cigarette, we can only do so with confidence because we’ve been in her shoes, possibly more than once. But we’re not on trial here.

We mentioned parachutes earlier. This is good. Day & Night is going to be back at Gurney’s Inn four times this year: Memorial Day, July 4 weekend, August 3 weekend, and Labor Day. On Memorial Day (we’re not kidding at all by the way) a member of the Dual Groupe family will personally deliver a magnum of Dom Perignon to a lucky table from 13,500 feet… by parachute. That’s right. This bottle will be chilled not by liquid nitrogen, or the whirling palm fronds of a thousand belly dancers, but rather by a 13,000-foot free fall through the sky. There is nothing more we can add to this than the litany of thoughts that have already passed through your head.

What else… The Crow’s Nest expanded and added some private bungalows, a bunch of Swedish chefs (we know) will be hosted at the Living Room c/o Maidstone Hotel this summer, and the Standard Hotel is joining the list of hotels that are offering sea plane service to the Hamptons this summer through StndAIR, (potentially at a discount as well, which has us totally interested).

So close that zip file, drop the mouse, and set that chair a-spinning for your first weekend in the new, more mature Hamptons. And if a bottle of Dom happens to alight upon your head from somewhere in the sub-stratosphere, consider yourself blessed. 

[Related: BlackBook Hamptons Guide; Hamptons 2013 Pre-Preview; The Hottest Hamptons Hotels for Summer 2013; More by Colin M. Graham; Follow Colin on Twitter for more Hamptons scoops; Download the free, GPS-enabled BlackBook City Guides for iPhone and Android; Reminisce on beach day’s past with last year’s Hamptons 2012 Preview and Post-Season Wrap-up]

Dining At The Narrows In Brooklyn

When the The Narrows opened up in 2010, the idea was to bring a speakeasy-style bar to Bushwick, Brooklyn. The space is dark, simple, and like the name boasts, very narrow. A little over a month ago, the bar doubled in size as the owners added another two rooms, which coincidently prove as narrow as the original. The main difference, the new space was built to serve dinner instead of the bar snacks the bar initially offered.

You can still get those too, though now options include spiced nuts, Manchego fritters, and oysters. In charge of the kitchen is Nick Subic, formally of Do or Dine and Roberta’s. Subic’s main inspiration comes from the Alessandro Fillipini’s The Delmonico Cook Book, and his sparse, though solid menu offers hearty American dishes including rustic chicory salad with goat cheese, steak Delmonico with grape must, and home-made doughnut ice cream.

By ignoring the high ceilings and deciding to occupy two spaces rather than one, The Narrows keeps its speakeasy vibe. Of course, the cocktails help that too. Try the smoky Penicillin or one of their own concoctions like the Anaglypta with gin, Campari, vermouth, and yellow Chartreuse. If you forgo the bar seating or want to check out the additions, you can choose from the back room where a giant map lines the wall and a globe glows in the corner. Here, they have placed a community table, and is the only spot in dining area where more than two people can sit. The other room hosts comfortable black vinyl booths, with low, Art Deco lights to dimly illuminate your meal.

Before you finish conducting all your secret business, make sure to try Subic’s lamb potpie with juniper cream. Only then will you be ready to pull up the collar of your trench and head out into the dark streets of Brooklyn.

Delmonico’s Dresses Down to Spread Its Reign: Q&A With Owner Dennis Turcinovic

When brothers John and Peter Delmonico opened the first Delmonico’s in Downtown Manhattan in 1827, they helped pioneer fine dining in the city. As one of the top establishments of its time, the famous steakhouse created what are now classic dishes including lobster Newberg, baked Alaska, and of course, the Delmonico steak.

Over the years, the original Delmonico’s changed hands and buildings. Now, it’s owned by Dennis Turcinovic, who just opened Delmonico’s Kitchen, a more laid back version of the iconic fine dining joint. This is just the beginning of a chain of Delmonico’s as they plan to open locations all across the world. I chatted with Turcinovic to find out just what he has in mind.

What does it mean for Delmonico’s to open a more casual eatery?
We are so excited to bring the history of the original Delmonico’s to Midtown. Even though Delmonico’s is my home and where I was raised, I wanted to create a certain ambiance at Delmonico’s Kitchen, a place that is louder, hipper, and has a spin on the modern techniques of cooking. When I’m not working, I tend to go to places where I can wear a jacket, jeans and cool sneakers. That’s what we want to offer our customers.  I wanted to use the Delmonico’s brand and the long-standing history we have so people know they’re going to get a good meal and a good experience.

How does it relate to the original, iconic location?
Delmonico’s is not your father’s steak house. Our goal was to recreate the downtown classics in a chic, modern way uptown. You’ll notice our light fixtures are transcendent of a historic steakhouse however paired with modern placard wood, gold painted accents, and deep red upholstery, We’ve collided both the old and new world. As far as food, you’ll find many of our signature dishes invented at Delmonico’s on our menu at Delmonico’s Kitchen, but with an updated twist. For example, our classic Eggs Benedict is transformed with the addition of a crab cake, quail egg and d’espelette hollandaise. We also took some dishes that were invented at Delmonico’s but never made the menu downtown and put a modern twist on them. One of my personal favorites is the Pan Roasted Gianone Chicken Marengo. We’ve added shrimp and hen egg to the recipe for a unique collision of flavors.

I hear you want to expand worldwide, what brought this on?
Working in the Financial District for 15 years, I have met many notable, influential and inspiring people. The Delmonico’s brand is so well known that no matter where you go out to eat, there is always a connection to the restaurant’s iconic history. I remember walking into a butcher shop about 10 years ago and seeing a Delmonico’s rib chop. I asked the butcher where it came from and he said an iconic restaurant. The sense of pride I had at that moment gave me the inspiration and desire to build and expand upon such an already powerful brand. New York has nearly 47 million foreign and American tourists visit each year. Everyone wants to experience all the wonders of the city from music to arts to cuisine. Expanding Delmonico’s worldwide would allow patrons to experience a piece of culinary history as well as New York and American history. 

What areas do you want to open Delmonico’s in first? Why?
We want to start opening Delmonico’s Kitchen locations in larger domestic cities such as Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. We want to keep the integrity and history of the restaurant, so we plan to keep control of the brand and hope to partner with larger brands and hotels for support.

Will you keep the signature items on the menu?
We will absolutely continue to preserve Delmonico’s history by keeping some of our signature items on the menu.  Delmonico’s wouldn’t be Delmonico’s without the Delmonico Steak, Lobster Newburg or Baked Alaska.

What makes Delmonico’s so special?
Delmonico’s is a family owned and operated business. Some of our waiters have been with us since before I was born. Everyone who is part of the original Delmonico’s has a sense of pride and passion for the restaurant and that’s something we don’t see too often these days. Every day that I go to work, I’m keeping a piece of history alive. 

How did the downtown Delmonico’s weather the storm?
Delmonico’s felt the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. The lower level of the restaurant suffered from flooding. A couple of our private dining rooms were flooded and caused equipment to move around. We immediately hired a crew and even though we didn’t have power for days after Sandy hit, the crew and myself were working with a generator to ensure we would be able to get the restaurant open as soon as possible. We opened our main dining room and bar on November 9 and we are almost complete with the re-build of our lower level.

Opening Across NYC: Four Steakhouses

It’s not exactly rigorous science, but the launching of new steakhouses must say something positive about the state of the economy. The beneficiaries are outside of downtown, in the natural habitats of expense accounts and the people who fund them. On Friday, the Arlington Club will make a big splash on a Lexington Avenue corner. The space has housed UES demographics as reliable as a Republican club and a skating rink, and this clubby steak palace fits right in with the pedigree. Arched ceilings and skylights make for dramatic overheads. Earth-toned accents and vintage black and whites amplify the “club” in the name. Fusion pros Tao have joined forces with Laurent Tourondel for the steakhouse menu. There will be red meat, of course, highlighted by a signature côte de boeuf dry-aged for four weeks. If you find yourself with a sexy cardiologist to impress, you can opt for creative sushi, like peekytoe crab with mango and curry-lemongrass.

While the original Delmonico’s dusts off from Sandy, midtown welcomes a spin-off 175 years in the making. Delmonico’s Kitchen combines the heritage of the original with up-to-date vibes. Candlelit tables, red leather banquettes, and a long marble bar anchor the scene. The menu stands ready for the 21st century, employing organic and local ingredients, and freshening up signatures like lobster Newburg and baked Alaska. Perilously large and juicy steaks justify the legends. If you’re not in the mood for beef, rest assured they know their way around a plate of eggs Benedict. They invented it.

Brasserie fare is the focus of the newest version of The Smith, holding down prime (pun intended) real estate across from Lincoln Center. Unlike its two siblings, uptown has an expanded steak program, with filet mignon, NY strip, and prime rib among the offerings. The interior is McNally-esque, crossing a French café with homegrown industrial chic. White tile, blackened steel, and a zinc bar bump the atmosphere. An elaborate drinks program breaks things down into muddlers, fancy cocktails, and long pours, ensuring you’ll never sit through Le Nozze di Figaro sober again. (Although if for some reason you want to, they also have low-alcohol pre-theater mixes.)

The latest from John DeLucie of Crown and The Lion fame is the reboot of a classic ’20s speakeasy. “Gay” and “Nineties” are gone from the name, leaving just a stripped-down Bill’s. The historical interior is likewise absent, although the look remains eclectic, littered with artwork and the odd deer head and captain’s wheel. White tablecloths are laid out for a chophouse menu. A raw bar starts things off, running from oysters and stone crab claws to California golden osetra. Racks of lamb, rib-eyes, and 35-day prime porterhouses follow. There’s even a Delmonico, in case you can’t make it across town for the original.

Steak is back. We’ll never eat bánh mì again.

Hotel ‘Hood: Neighborhood Picks Near the Millenium Hilton New York

Like all things in New York City, choosing where to stay as a visitor is all about location. Hotels have a tendency to advertise their location like this: “We are located just steps from (insert hottest neighborhood of the moment)” when, in all actuality, they’re located steps, blocks, and then two subway transfers away—which can totally suck when you’re hoofing it with a screaming brood or heavy shopping bags. Service and amenities round out a hotel’s total package, but consideration should be paid to zip codes and neighborhoods, depending on what you plan to accomplish during your stay.

Literally gazing down into Ground Zero in the Financial District, the Millenium Hilton is for business travelers and family tourists alike. Here’s a look at what to see and do in the hotel’s bustling Lower Manhattan neighborhood during your stay.

The Hotel image Breakdown: It was totally redesigned after 9/11, from the dining experiences to state-of-the-art meeting and event facilities, and the thoughtful planning shows: it’s agreeable to both families on the go and busy business travelers. Stand-Outs: Heated indoor swimming pool overlooking New York City, meeting and banquet space, unfussy but chic restaurant and lobby bar. Location: Located on Church Street at Fulton, it’s conveniently close to the heart of the downtown FiDi. Best For: Business folks who need easy access to Wall Street and other downtown corporations; Tourists looking to see classic city sights like the Statue of Liberty, and Old New York restaurants and architecture.

Next: Neighborhood Sights

Neighborhood Sights: image 1. Statue of Liberty: Hop aboard the the Statue of Liberty ferry in Battery Park, located just a few blocks from the Millenium Hilton. 2. South Street Seaport: Check out shops, family restaurants, and the farmers market, or enjoy the Taxi Beach in summer and ice skating in winter. 3. Brooklyn Bridge: I recommend walking across this historic bridge, which once held the title for longest suspension bridge in the world. 4. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria: When you get over the bridge, mosey over to enjoy a slice of what many consider to be the best pie in the country at America’s “first” Pizzeria. 5. New York Stock Exchange: If you’re not here to work, you can sign up for a tour of the place that holds our nation’s fiscal fate in it’s hands. 6. Wall Street’s Charging Bull: The unofficial/official symbol of Wall Street is literally located 0.2 miles from the front door of the hotel. 7. St. Paul’s Chapel: Next door to the towering hotel is this tiny little church and graveyard. It’s where George Washington worshiped during inauguration day, and it withstood the World Trade Center Attacks.

Next: Dining and Nightlife

Dining and Nightlife image image In Hotel: 1. Church & Dey 2. Liquid Assets Nearby: 3. Delmonico’s 4. BLT Bar & Grill 5. Bridge Cafe 6. Wall & Water 7. Bar Seven Five

“Inside New York Eateries” Exhibit Explores New Yorker’s Reservations

When I was working in the restaurant industry some odd years ago, I relished the time just before opening. Servers and managers went out back to smoke and bitch and I would stand in the dining room looking out over the polished silverware in the fading afternoon light. The room looked like an empty, half-lit stage just before opening night. Wijnanda Deroo’s third solo exhibit, Inside New York Eateries, presently showing at the Robert Mann Gallery, articulates this moment in a photo series that documents New York’s culinary institutions as they sit empty, before the evening’s cast has taken a seat. Along with views of Milon and the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant—all standing eerily silent—the series also captures beloved, now-shuttered venues.

When I’m out at a restaurant, I barely notice the actual space itself, focusing instead on table conversation, entrees, a famous face a table over, or background music. That’s why it’s surprisingly gripping to see these places void of the energy we use to identify a place, consciously or not. Seeing Deroo’s photo of the now-closed Tavern on the Green is uncanny because of the restaurant’s relationship with the New Yorkers who know its history – and how it came to close.

We’re proud when we see our street corner in a movie scene; we can place ourselves at an empty table in Deroo’s shot of Delmonico’s. It’s both aspirational and territorial—which, in itself, is the magic behind New York’s nightlife at the heart.

Wijnanda Deroo’s Inside New York Eateries will run until January 29th at the Robert Mann gallery. Pop in before your customary dinner reservation.

Photo: The Oak Room, 2009, from Robert Mann Gallery.

New York: All Points West Music Fest Top Eats & Drinks

For the second year in a row, All Points West will take over Liberty State Park in Jersey City this weekend. For most Manhattan dwellers, the thought of crossing that river is daunting — but with a location just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, the commute is surprisingly easy and filled with great pit stops. Meet your friends for a pint or a bite at one of these fantastic bars and restaurants near your departure point, and enjoy Jay-Z, Coldplay, Vampire Weekend, The Ting Tings, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on a full stomach. With a seven-beer maximum and lengthy festival lines, you’ll need the pre-party.

Ferry Service (Lower Manhattan) Enjoy the sights and bites of lower Manhattan before catching the Ferry at Battery Park Pier, just south of Castle Clinton. The ferry is $20 if you buy this week; otherwise it’s $25 on the day of the show. Prior to cruising by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, fill up at these lower Manhattan favorites. ● Burger Shoppe – So close to the bottom of Manhattan you can feel the mist off the river. Crowd is largely lunch-breakers and FiDi residents; near empty on the weekends, which means you can pack in you and your posse pre-Silversun Pickups. Nothing really under $10 as far as food fare, but you’ll be spending the same on street meat and beer at the festival anyway. Best of all, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from your ferry.

Gigino – Get into the outdoor mode at this overpriced picnic spot just north of the Castle Clinton National Monument. Rustic Italian food to OD on carbs for your all night dance-a-thon. ● Cordato’s Deli – Guessing that your festival garb borders on grunge, NYC’s most suspicious deli might be your best bet. Dark and dank — how the MI5 might run a deli, but a perfect meet-up spot, as it’s near all of the subways. ● John Street Bar & Grill – Just as grimy as your Nike Dunks will be after an extended MSTRKRFT dance set. Like parallel to an outdoor festival, the elements in this bar are saved by the music — in this case, a quality juke. Greasy bar bites are a great way to start off the day. ● Delmonico’s – For the refined concertgoer. Legendary steaks for the pinstripe set, though it should be fine for the plaid shorts set on any given festival afternoon. Get ready for the day by filling up on a classic steak lunch for $24 if you mention the code “SumSp1144.”

PATH Train (West Village) The environs of the PATH Train at Christopher Street and Greenwich Street or 9th Street will certainly support your eating and drinking habits. PATH stations Hoboken, Pavonia-Newport, and Exchange Place all offer free connections for All Points West ticket holders to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail that will take you straight to the festival. Hop in here before you hop on the train. ● Rusty Knot – You’ll be on the water … might as well get a jump start with this nautically themed bar. Ask bartender Griffin for his special pre-music festival shot: the lethal and yummy pickle backs. Then stumble on over to the PATH. ● White Horse Tavern – Since it’s an arts and music festival, may as well try impress your pals by taking them to the place where Dylan Thomas bit the dust after an eve of boozing, then join in with the rest of the frat party by downing beer by the pitcher. ● Blind Tiger Ale House – The old faithful beer haunt is always a great meet up place. Listing 28 drafts from homey to exotic, plus many more in bottles. There are about as many brews as there are APW festival bands. ● A Salt & Battery – Sure, APW isn’t Glastonbury, but get psyched just the same by plunking down with your mates for some perfect fish ‘n’ chips wrapped in London newspaper spotted with grease. Brilliant, innit? ● Corner Bistro – Wait, how much were those festival tickets again? Luckily there is this joint known for the incomparable Bistro Burger. With everything on the menu less than $6.50, and cheap McSorley’s to wash it down, we’ve hit the penny-pinching mother lode. See you soon, Neko Case!