Hotel Griffou’s David Santos Can Taste Summer

David Santos is excited about the heat. One afternoon last week, the Executive Chef at New York’s Hotel Griffou impatiently awaited the arrival of late spring cherries, “jet black and loaded with sugar,” and later strawberries, peaches, and nectarines, which will flavor the many menus he’s planning for the restaurant’s summer season. Santos has a compulsive need to change at least a quarter of his menu every month, especially the most popular dishes, which he sees over and over again while expediting a busy dinner service. “I have menu ADD,” says the 32-year-old. “I’m always very much into a menu when I create it, but soon I start to get bored with it and can’t wait to change it.”

Less than a year ago, Santos left an executive chef position at Harlem’s The 5&Diamond to take control of the kitchen at the decadent, cleverly-designed 1920s-era Hotel Griffou. The restaurant occupies the entire basement floor of the building that was once Madame Griffou’s boarding house, with later incarnations as the infamous Penguin Club and Mary Lou’s.

Nowadays, Santos is focusing on a series of monthly tasting dinners at the restaurant, which allow him to break the bonds of the regular menu and offer his guests a less conventional dining experience. He sees these ever-changing meals as the true vessel for his creative needs. “The tasting dinners are really about me expressing myself,” he admits, “An opportunity to do what I want.”

For an upcoming dinner on June 20th, Chef Santos is planning a “signs of summer” menu with a wine-pairing theme yet to be announced. In the meantime, here he is taking a breather from a busy afternoon of butchering to answer a few questions.

You aspire, like many other New York chefs, to create a seasonal menu. Is it more than a trend? Growing up, my family was very seasonal. When my parents emigrated here from Portugal, they brought with them a part of their lives and culinary traditions. We had a garden with rabbits and pigeons, and we ate what grew there. In the summer we pickled vegetables from the garden. My Mother was a very picky produce shopper and would never buy peaches and nectarines in the winter. The mentality of farm-to-table was installed in me since. That is why the idea of a ‘signature dish’ always seems odd to me because ingredients change. I’m glad to see that restaurants are serving more seasonal things. Food is better when you buy it exactly when it tastes good, and not have it shipped from miles away. I’m also concerned with the whole issue of the carbon footprint on the environment. I drive a Prius

It is hot out today. What are you looking forward to cooking this summer? Summer is my favorite season. Spring is fun because you get tired of braising meats all winter and you finally see something green instead of all those roots, but there’s still not much available in the markets. Summer into fall is really the best time to be a chef, since it’s most versatile. You have sweet corn from Jersey, Peaches and nectarines – its like shooting fish in a barrel.

You mentioned your Portuguese heritage. What are some staples of your childhood kitchen? The one thing we always had in the house was piri piri oil. It went on everything, giving food real character. Grilling is a very prominent cooking technique in Portugal, and my dad was always grilling outside, even in the winter. My mother is one of the best cooks I know. She could make just about anything. She made meatloaf like it was nobody’s business.

The Portuguese mark is evident on the menu, but so are influences from the Middle East and Asia. Where are these flavors coming from? When I create a menu, it is as much about the places I’ve been as it is about where I want to go. I love Middle Eastern food. My favorite place to eat in New York is the Hallal cart on 53rd and 6th avenue, which I visit at least once a week. The idea for the tuna dish (with Middle Eastern kebe spice, jasmine rice, and cucumber yogurt) came from watching an episode of Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre Foods filmed in Egypt. Every year brings with it new trends in food that seem to take over menus all over town. What’s your take on this year’s hot culinary trends? I think that food trends are brought up by a need or interest. Take a hamburger, for example. They are great, but do they need to be on everybody’s menu? I wish they didn’t have to be. But given the state of the economy, I think they are still a necessity. I accept it but try not to follow too much, and do what I think is right. But listen, there are many people out there right now making ton of money selling lobster rolls…

You worked in some of New York’s most prominent restaurants. Who are the chefs that most inspired you? Thomas Keller [with whom he worked at Per Se] taught me about everything that is beautiful about food. He taught me how meticulous and exacting food can be – the way he sourced the best ingredients, the many influences he drew on to create his food. It was always based on perfect technique. David Bouley, with whom I worked for over a year, is probably one of the most talented chefs I ever met. He taught me cooking under pressure. Working at Bouley was emotionally and physically intense. We worked 100-hour weeks and someone was always quitting. In that chaotic kitchen, I learned how to be good and how to survive. He was always there, always watching. At Bouley you had 250 people dining and you were beat, and the worst thing you can do is make a mistake. I was always a very composed person, but after I finished at Bouley it seemed that there was nothing that could be thrown at me that would rattle me. To last a year at Bouley was a feat that only about 4-5% do. I was there for a year and 2 months. So as much as I learned form Per se and the beauty there, I learned from Bouley and its craziness.

And your own kitchen – is it managed like Bouley’s or Keller’s? I like to sit right in the middle. I embrace a little bit of awkwardness and difficulty in the kitchen because it’s important for a cook to learn to deal with it. But I always want my food to be beautiful, to be sound in technique, and to taste great. I love the craziness and I live the order.

How often do you get to dine out in the city? Just about never. Accidentally, last night I dined at Brushstroke [David Bouley’s newest restaurant]. It was the first time I’ve gone out to eat in about a year. Taking up a kitchen in a new restaurant, you work so much just to make it work. There is a pressure of getting your name out there and proving yourself, so I find it necessary to be here all the time. But with summer coming up I’m hoping to find the time to dine out more. I want to check out The Dutch, eat at Daniel for the first time, and go to Le Bernardin again.

You are trying to establish yourself in a city chuck-full of celebrity chefs. Have you ever considered taking the reality TV path? I was asked to go on the Food Network’s Chopped a few times, but I rather stay away. I actually believe that my experience working at the kitchen at Bouley would have made me a good competitor, but I am so involved right now with my work that I’m not into becoming a celebrity chef. I see myself as very out going, easy to talk to, camera ready. But it is not my focus. My focus is making people happy. I think that is how you make a name for yourself. So you may not see me on Chopped any time soon, but you might catch me on Food Network’s Best thing I Ever Ate. Chef Ann Thornton nominated my venison tartar.

Where Celebs Go Out: Stanley Tucci, Tom Colicchio, Alessandro Nivola

Stanley Tucci at The Luxury Collection Destination Guide Launch with Assouline: I like to go to a lot of different places, but certainly Mario Batali’s restaurants. The beef cheek ravioli at Babbo is so delicious and so incredible. Just about anything he cooks is okay with me. I always stay at the St. Regis, here in New York. ● Rosie Perez: I love Gino’s in Bay Ridge. The arroz con gandule at Luz in Brooklyn is a favorite, and the roasted chicken is the best deal in town. Here in the city, Dok Suni’s for Korean barbeque, at First Avenue and 7th Street.

Alessandro Nivola: Sunny’s, a bar in Red Hook, which has bluegrass bands on some nights. It’s where they filmed On the Waterfront. And a restaurant called The Good Fork in the same neighborhood. The Red Hook Bait and Tackle is a bar that’s seedier than Sunny’s. In Boerum Hill, there’s a great place called Mile End, a hip, Jewish deli. They smoke their own meats and have this incredible beef brisket. ● Estelle: Avenue and SL, I love ’em both. ● Krysten Ritter: I love Brooklyn Bowl. Kenmare is a fun place to go. Aurora in Williamsburg on Grand Street has a wonderful, little beet salad with hazelnuts. ● Timo Weiland: I love to go to Norwood and Gramercy Park Hotel. Sugarland in Brooklyn, so much fun. It’s off-the-beaten path, but a wild dance party. ● Daniel Boulud at the James Beard Awards: Right now, DBGB these days, because it’s one that keeps me the most busy. I like Marea, Le Bernardin, Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn. ● Tom Colicchio: I live in the West Village, so I, often, go to Barbuto or Spotted Pig, ’cause they’re in walking distance. The food’s all good. I try different things all the time, so I don’t go back and try the same thing over and over. ● Wylie Dufresne: We like to go to PDT for a cocktail late at night or some tater tots. 15 East is a favorite. We just came from the new Terroir in Tribeca that was great. DBGB just opened up in our neighborhood. The hundred-layer lasagne at Del Posto was pretty special. ● David Burke: Corton was great. From the Garden is a favorite dish there. ● Michael Oher at Big Brothers Big Sisters Sidewalks of New York gala: I live in Baltimore. I love seafood, so anything on the Inner Harbor. The Cheesecake Factory is there. At PF Changs, I get the shrimp-and-chicken fried rice. ● Sebastian Copeland at Pepcom for the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Into the Cold: My favorite sushi is in the Valley at Nozawa, which is a place that Spielberg goes to and tried to have Mr. Nozawa open a restaurant in New York. He serves you the food, so you can’t ask for what you want. He kicked out Cherlize Theron one time. He’s known as the “Sushi Nazi.” ● Miranda Cosgrove at Sony Music luncheon celebrating the release of her debut album, Sparks Fly: I go to Mozza in L.A. It’s like a pizza place. They have squash blossoms and really, good margherita pizza. Hungry Cat, on Sunset, has the best dessert. It’s like a chocolate souflee. ● Phil Ramone at opening night of Million Dollar Quartet on Broadway: Bravo Gianni’s on the east side. Sardi’s because I want to feel the history, and they have a good wine list.

Where Celebs Go Out: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Ben Stiller, Alan Cumming

At the Date Night premiere: 1. Steve Carell – “Boy! You know what? On the way in, we drove by Shun Lee. My wife and I, when we lived here, we ate there all the time. John’s Pizza was one of our favorite pizza places. Any one, but, certainly, the one in the Village, and I think they opened one up off Times Square. That’s just always good.” 2. Tina Fey – “My favorite restaurant in the world is a restaurant in Chicago, called the Athenaeum Room. Favorite dish? Chicken on french fries.” 3. Taraji P. Henson – “The Little Owl. I went there the other night!” 4. Jimmi Simpson – “Providence, on Melrose, in Los Angeles. Any special dish? The five-course tasting menu.” 5. Carol Alt – “Actually, I like Pure Food and Wine because it’s a raw restaurant. What do you like there? Well, just about everything, but their ice cream is killer! Raw ice cream — unbelievable, unbelievable. I eat at a lot of Japanese places, so I can have raw fish. I’m a raw foodist, so it, kind of, limits.”

6. Common – “I love Café Habana. It’s located on Prince and Elizabeth. I’ve been, consistently, going there. It’s not anything new. I’ve been going there for, like, 10, 11 years. Cuban food; great music. You got to eat the corn. The corn is the best. I like the camarones, too — the shrimp; they’re incredible. I also enjoy a place called Stan’s, in Brooklyn. It’s like Cajun, but new food. It’s like New Orleans, but slash some other feel to it. It’s a great restaurant. I’m a restaurant guy more than a club guy. I like going to the movies different places, like, what’s the one on Houston? The Angelica. I love that.” 7. Serena Williams – “I don’t go to restaurants here, so–.” 8. Jane Krakowski – “Can’t think of any. Sorry!” 9. Shawn Levy – “Well, I’ll go with New York. I like– I ate there last night– Scalinatella, at like 61st and Third, that place underground. I like Nobu. That’s really not surprising. I like Cafe des Artistes, with that great antipasto cafe. Does that give you enough? All right.” 10. Ben Stiller – “Bar Pitti.” 11: Keith Powell – “I live in Brooklyn, and I live in Fort Greene. And in Fort Greene, there’s a restaurant called No. 7. And No. 7 is the most amazing restaurant. The head chef is a guy named Tyler Kord. And he used to be the sous chef for Jean-Georges. And the menu changes every month, and he comes up with the most amazing concoctions, both in terms of drinks and food. It’s wonderful. Anything that man makes is, kind-of, a work of art.”

At the YourSingapore launch in Times Square: 12. Matt Harding – “Oh, my gosh, I’m totally blanking on– I love garlic, so I love The Stinking Rose restaurant in L.A. and San Francisco. They just drench everything in garlic. You’re sick the next day, but it’s fantastic! My favorite restaurant in Seattle– I love Tom Douglas. He’s a Seattle chef. He’s at the Dahlia Lounge. New York, there’s just so many fantastic restaurants, I couldn’t think of one. And Singapore, actually, my favorite place to eat is out on the street. The Hawker markets are fantastic! Where’s your next stop? I’m going home to Seattle, and then maybe to Afghanistan.”

At the NY International Auto Show benefit preview for the East Side House Settlement: 13. Fe Fendi – “I like Le Cirque. It’s like going to a family restaurant for me. For lunch, always Cipriani! Cipriani for lunch — dinner at Le Cirque.

At Dressed to Kilt: 14. Alan Cumming – “Gnocco in the East Village.” 15. Shani Davis – “I live in Chicago. My favorite restaurant — fast food — is Harold’s or, maybe, Portillo’s. I love Giordano’s a lot.” 16. Eric Daman – “I’m a huge fan of the Mercer Kitchen. I love their mac and cheese and their carpaccio sea bass.” 17. Kelly Killoren Bensimon – “My ultimate favorite restaurant is Le Bernardin–Eric Ripert– he catered my wedding. It’s, probably, the most incredible restaurant, actually, in the world. But one of my favorite restaurants is Brinkley’s, which is right around the corner from me. It’s a really, really, cool, fun bar, and one of my friends that went to Trinity — ’cause I went to Trinity — went there, so I go there a lot. Any favorite dish anywhere? Wherever– whatever– I like to explore and have fun with the menu. I really, really like and what they’re making is more exciting than just for me to sit there and be like, ‘Yeah, I’ll have rice and vegetables. This is really fun.’ I’d rather have someone make something and be creative.” 18. Al Roker – “Oh, golly! That’s like asking, ‘What’s your favorite kid?’! If it’s Italian, it would be Girasole or Fresco. If it’s a steak place, it would, probably, be Ben Benson’s or across the river, Peter Luger’s.” 19. Nigel Barker – “Del Posto. I love that place. I used to go there on dates all the time. My favorite pub is Dublin 6 in the West Village. It’s my old, local Irish place — D6. And Barbuto is another favorite of mine. It’s not as upscale. It’s, kind of, in between the two. It’s on Washington.” 20. Donald Trump Jr. – “Wow, that’s a — in New York, there’s really no shortage of great restaurants, but, I guess it depends what food we’re going for. If we’re going formal, Jean-Georges is good; Le Cirque is good. If we’re going low-key, there’s a lot of great ones lying around. We’re opening up a great one on Friday — Quattro — in our hotel down in SoHo that’s going to be opening, so a little bit of a Miami, downtown flair.”

Promoting Burlesque to Broadway: 21. Quinn Lemley – One of my favorites is Maloney & Porcelli. They have a great wine dinner that’s all inclusive, and wonderful steaks and oysters. There’s a new Academia del Vino that’s up on Broadway and 89th. It’s where Docks used to be. They have a great wine bar and wonderful food. It’s the same people that have Cesca— it’s that restaurant group. And it’s very happening. It’s so exciting to see something on the Upper West Side above 86th Street.

At Our Family Wedding: 22. Mark Indelicato – “I like to go to places that aren’t mainstream chain restaurants. Sometimes, I’m just walking down the street with friends, and we see like this small, little cafe, and we just go in. Don’t even know the name of it, don’t know what it’s about, but I just like the small, boutique restaurants, like Alice’s Teacup here on the Upper West Side. It’s small and not a lot of people know about it, but it’s still really cool.”

Where Celebs Go Out: Penelope Cruz, Katie Couric, Gabrielle Union

At the New York Film Festival premiere of Broken Embraces:

● PENELOPE CRUZ – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Oh, I have many because I love food so much!” And in Madrid? “I go to many that are out in the countryside, but whoever goes there for the first time should go to Botin. It’s the oldest restaurant in the world.” What did you like about it? “Everything!”

● PEDRO ALMODOVAR – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Mr. Chow’s — we had dinner there the other day, and it was really very impressive.” And in Madrid? “In Madrid, there are many. Casa Lucio is one of my favorites.”

● LAUREN BACALL – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Oh, please, don’t ask me about that! I’m going to see a movie!”

● ANDREA ILLY – Favorite restaurant in New York? “Here we have many good restaurants: Le Bernardin, Le Cirque, these kind.” And in Rome? “In Rome, we also have many restaurants, like Lapergola — these kind of beautiful restaurants — or the Hotel de Russie, a beautiful place as well.”

At the Library of American Broadcasting’s Giants of Broadcasting Awards:

● KATIE COURIC – “I don’t really spend a lot of time hanging out in bars [laughs], which I think is a good thing. But I like BLT Steak because I’m a big carnivore. I like this really, beautiful restaurant outside Washington called L’auberge Chez Francois, where I took my parents on their anniversary. I love Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami. Those are three good ones.”

● KEN BURNS – “Well, I like Burdick’s Restaurant in Walpole, New Hampshire. It’s been around since 2001. It is a small, little village in New Hampshire, but people quite often drive from New York or Boston. That’s four or three hours to have a meal there. The fact that I am a silent partner in it is part of full disclosure. I live in Walpole, New Hampshire; I travel a great deal, and I basically don’t cook anymore. I’ll eat every meal I can in this restaurant. It’s a broad mix of Continental cuisine done in a very informal and really charming atmosphere, and I don’t know anybody who has been there that hasn’t just fallen in love with it. The proprietor, the man whose genius it is, is Larry Burdick, the well-known chocolatier with a boutique chocolate business. He used to work here, as a dessert chef for many fine restaurants, and moved to our little village 15 years ago to manufacture his chocolates, which are second to none. But he and I had always complained that what we needed was a good restaurant, and we were able to do that.” What about in New York? “I like Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue between Bleecker and Houston. It’s next to Da Silvano, which gets a lot of attention. Bar Pitti is just quite simply the best Tuscan cuisine in the United States. It’s simple. Everyone who goes there knows about it. You can’t get a better side dish of spinach. The tagliata is amazing. Every dish — I’ve never had a bum dish there. And it’s sort of our go-to place. We bring the kids; we go late; we go early. I’ve been doing it for 20 years.

At the New York Film Festival premiere of Capitalism: A Love Story:

● MICHAEL MOORE – What are some of your favorite restaurants or bars? “[Laughs] I don’t do commercials!”

● MORGAN SPURLOCK – “I love La Esquina ’cause it’s right next to my office. It’s this incredible restaurant, right on Kenmare and Centre Street and Lafayette. Amazing food, fantastic. I love Balthazar. I probably have lunch there once a week because my office is also very close to there. Puck Fair is probably my favorite bar in New York City — Irish bar. I love Puck Fair. I love just the energy. It’s probably the best pint in New York City. Yeah, it’s a great energy, great vibe.”

At the Quicken Online launch party for Bank of Mom and Dad:

● FARNOOSH TORABI – “Cafe Frida on Columbus Avenue & 77th Street for Mexican food.”

Spotted on Columbus Avenue, in town for Clinton Global Initiative:

● LISA LING – “My favorite place these days in L.A., which is where I live, is a place called Baby Blues Barbecue. It’s Southern-style barbecue, and it is comfort food. And over the last few months, I had been needing a lot of comfort, so it was a perfect kind of place to feed that desire and that craving.”

At the Sophie’s Voice benefit for spina bifida research:

● COUNTESS LUANN DE LESSEPS – “I was just at Jean Georges on Central Park West, which I haven’t been to in a long time, and it was so nice ’cause we got to sit outside and the weather’s still nice … so that’s one of my favorite places in New York. In Milan, Sant Ambroeus. They come from Milan, and they have a place in New York and Southampton.”

● GABRIELLE UNION – “Let’s start with Miami! They have this new place called Eight Ounce Burger that I love; love Il Gabbiano on the water, off of Biscayne; love the spa at the Mandarin. In L.A., there’s this place called Happy Foot on Ventura that gives, like, the most amazing foot and body rubs, but you’re fully clothed. It’s kind of awesome.”

Industry Insiders: Dave’s Grill’s Julie Marcley

Now that summer’s finally on the fritz (sniffle) ’til next Memorial Day and Manhattanite weekend chatter is more catwalks than beachwalks, Julie Marcley, tireless first lady to Montauk’s longstanding standout Dave’s Grill, finally has time to take a breather, enjoy a Chocolate Bag, and answer our questions — from the Hamptonization of Montauk to her ‘Dirty Dancing’-esque forbidden summer romance with a young chef that took her from Weekender to gatekeeper. And after 22 years behind her hostess station, Mrs. Chef Dave is speaking her mind.

First thing’s first: how did Dave’s Grill come to be? Back in 1988, Dave was out surfing when a friend paddled up to him and mentioned that the property was available to lease, and that he ought to take a look at it. He did. I did. The rest is history.

You guys have been open over 20 years. How has Montauk and the people who spend the summers here changed since you opened your doors? We’ve managed to preserved 70% of Montauk as open space. That’s happened within the last 20 years. And thank goodness; it’s truly what most people adore about Montauk. As to the people? Mobility (Blackberries, faxes, wireless, etc.) has made Montauk accessible in a whole new way. It’s brought a young, vibrant, and sophisticated set along with families and fishermen and surfers as in the past. It’s a better mix now. I moved here before it was “fashionable,” and I can honestly say it’s moving in the right direction. I hope we can hold on to its charms.

How does the summer crowd who come to Dave’s differ from the “locals” in terms of how they dress or behave at a restaurant? The summer crowd is, well, a summer crowd … The locals are here when the weather turns cold and gray. We couldn’t survive without either.

Every single day at the stroke of 4:15, there’s a mad dash to call you for a reservation. Other than a talented kitchen and access to all the fish in the sea, what’s your secret to your unwavering popularity? All I can say is I wish I’d been this popular in college! I don’t really know what the answer to your question is. It’s a phenomenon, actually. Originally, Dave’s Grill took no reservations, but once the wait turned into two hours or more for a table, we thought it might be a good idea; so we started the day-of phone policy. It took off, and now we sell out every night, and it’s like one big party.

What does the busiest woman in Montauk do in her free time? What free time?

What’s the best part of owning your own restaurant? The worst? The best is having the winters off. The worst is having to work all summer, while everyone else is enjoying the beach.

I love that chocolate “bag.” Any story behind that dish? Many years ago, Dave had hired a Culinary Institute grad to chef with us for the season: Ed Lightcap — a local, by the way. He saw some segment on TV that inspired him. He melted some Belgian chocolate and proceeded to paint the inside of a coffee bag — the kind you fill with beans at the supermarket with a wax paper lining. It looked good so we put it on the menu. Bingo!!

How is it being in business with your husband? Who says Dave is my husband? Just kidding. Actually, it’s what cemented our relationship. You see, I met Dave while I was a senior in college. I was one of those “summer people,” all of 21 years old, out for a pre-senior season, working at Gurney’s Inn as a receptionist in the spa. Dave was a bartender at Gurney’s that summer. I flipped for him and informed my mother that I was not going back to Tulane University, but instead would remain a spa receptionist at Gurney’s. My mother informed me that I would be on the next plane back to New Orleans. And so I was. But I had fallen hard and kept coming back to visit Dave and Montauk, even after I graduated and spent ten years in Manhattan toiling away at an acting/singing career and then a public relations career. We were wary about the idea of working together, but with him running the kitchen and me on the floor, it has fallen into place for us. Good thing we don’t have an open kitchen … it could end the bliss.

Do you ever get to the city, and if so, where do you and Dave like to eat? We do love to go into the city. Dave proposed to me at Bouley. One of our favorite restaurants is Le Bernardin. We also love anything Danny Meyer is behind. He’s a master. Then of course, there’s our favorite “neighborhood” Italian, pizza place, Chinese and Indian restaurants, but I’m not telling.

We know who has the best seafood in Montauk. In your opinion, who has the best seafood in the city? Le Bernardin.

It’s 4:16 on Friday night and I can’t get through at Dave’s! Where are three other Hamptons spots worth trying? Hit redial. If you don’t get through by 4:45 p.m. then consider coming in to eat at the bar. If all else fails, go to the 1770 House in East Hampton, Della Femina or Il Capuccino in Sag Harbor — they have thee best veal parmigiana.

We recently ran an article about Montauk’s “Hamptonization” — growth in shopping, more tourists, etc. Is Montauk selling out, and is that necessarily a bad thing? Montauk will always be Montauk. Montauk is not the Hamptons, but a certain amount of change is productive for a community. Great beaches luring swimmers, surfers, great golf courses luring golfers; great trails luring hikers and bikers; and oh the fishing. The main thing is visitors and locals alike have to hold on to what makes Montauk so inviting. It’s not the shopping here; it’s the raw beauty of where we are. Remember, no matter how bustling summer is, it’s brutal out here in the winter; desolate and brutal. It’s not for everyone. Nature won’t allow her to be sold out. That’s why I’m here.

What’s the most important thing a weekender needs to check out in Montauk before Labor Day weekend? I’ve heard a lot of talk about that lighthouse … Yes, the Lighthouse — climb to the top and feast your eyes. Also the Montauket Hotel at Sunset, Camp Hero for a hike, and any beach — take your pick.

At most crazy-busy restaurants, the hostesses are so mean! Have you ever just wanted to snap at pushy customers? I have. And I do. The really pushy ones are at other restaurants making the hostesses so mean. The truth is, most people are good at heart, but people get cranky when they’re hungry, and they get disappointed when they can’t get in. I like people — all kinds of people. I don’t care for those who carry an air of entitlement.