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Longtime local favorite the New Paradise Café has been replaced by a new venture by Michael Gluckman called Madison & Main, a moderately priced, self avowed kid-friendly restaurant that has a new outdoor back deck and a raw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]