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steak out
BLT STEAK ARRIVES IN SOUTHAMPTON, DELIVERING PREMIUM CUTS AND A SOCIAL ROSTER OF GUESTS THAT RIVAL THE BEST SUMMER SOIRÉES.
BY MATTHEW WEXLER PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIC STRIFFLER
CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT: BLT Steak is nestled within Capri Southampton; 28-day dry-aged NY strip with herb butter; Michael Balsamo, general manager, and Clifford Crooks, corporate executive chef.

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hen you hear “pop-up,” you may envision a clapboard sign and a pitcher of lemonade. But think again. BLT Steak has set up shop at Capri Southampton, and it’s redefining the milieu with its signature popovers, sizzling steaks, and handcrafted cocktails. “I’ve had a home in the Hamptons for more than 30 years and have always wanted to open a restaurant here, but it’s hard enough to operate a successful restaurant in a 12-month business, much less in an area with a three-month season,” says Jimmy Haber, Managing Partner of ESquared Hospitality. “The opportunity to open a pop-up restaurant at Capri was the perfect solution—enabling us to serve our loyal customers from Manhattan and Westchester who summer in the Hamptons, as well as introduce potential new customers to our dining experience.” With 11 locations on two continents, BLT Steak

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e East End outpost feels lighter and fresher than its city-slick siblings.

may be a familiar name to many steakhouse aficionados, but this East End outpost, nestled in what was once Nobu, feels lighter and fresher than its city-slick siblings. The décor has remained the same: A neutral palette of tan and white forgoes artwork in favor of large panels of geometrically designed nautical rope. The midcentury-inspired furniture and hanging cylinder lamps are still intact and cast a warm glow on the room. A fresh coat of paint and 1,700-degree oven were all the space needed for a steakhouse makeover—along with some of the best service you’re bound to find on the East End. While a great meal may be possible along Route 27, finding knowledgeable, articulate, and reliable continued on page 64

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BLT POPOVERS
A meal in itself, you’ll be tempted to eat two of these eggy, cheesy rolls on steroids. Try to resist, and instead, make them at home. MAKES 12 POPOVERS 4 cups milk, warmed 8 eggs 4 cups Gold Medal flour 1 ½ heaping tbsp. salt 2 ¼ cups Gruyère cheese, grated Place popover pan in oven. Heat the oven and pan to 350 degrees. Gently warm milk, and set aside. Whisk eggs until frothy, and slowly whisk in milk (so as not to cook eggs). Set mixture aside. Sift flour with salt. Slowly add dry mixture, and combine until mostly smooth. Once combined, remove popover pan from oven and spray with nonstick vegetable spray. While batter is still slightly warm, fill each popover cup three-quarters full. Top each popover with 2 tbsp. of grated Gruyère. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, rotating after 15 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and pan and serve immediately.

FROM TOP:

The tuna tartare is a notable dish on the BLT menu, which is enjoyed by Hamptonites such as Beth Ostrosky Stern.

continued from page 62 waitstaff is another story. A $16 cocktail, such as the Basil Haven (Hendrick’s gin, St-Germain, cucumbers, fresh lemon juice, and basil) can taste awfully sour if apathetically served from a college student on summer break who would rather be tossing a Frisbee at Cooper’s Beach. BLT Steak has gone the extra mile—literally—importing General Manager Michael Balsamo from BLT Prime along with select servers from its Charlotte, Atlanta, and New York City outposts to supplement the local hires. The result is impeccable and professional service delivered by a fresh-faced and enthusiastic team who understands the product and the clientele. It doesn’t hurt that they’re serving immaculately executed steakhouse fare, overseen by Corporate Executive Chef Cliff Crooks (whom you might recognize from season two of Bravo’s Top Chef ). Tuna tartare is presented as a pressed cube, floating in a shallow dish of soylime dressing, layered with avocado, and garnished with crispy shallots. The crab cake (light on filler, which is always a good sign) is served with radishes and fennel and dressed with basil oil. For those pacing themselves toward the main course, the chopped vegetable salad includes chunks of feta cheese, kalamata olives, and creamy oregano vinaigrette for a Mediterranean flair. The wildcard, though, is the grilled double-cut smoked bacon, slathered with brightly flavored chimichurri that cuts continued on page 66

BIG MEAL. BIG WINE.
The abbreviated Southampton version of BLT Steak’s award-winning wine list still hits high marks.
El Molino Rutherford Pinot Noir, Napa Valley (2009)—If the summer heat is too much for you, avoid Cabernet’s heavy tannins and ease into this medium-bodied wine, which offers notes of cherry and cedar wood with a savory pie crust character ($130). Foley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (2009)—Robert Foley made a name for himself at Pride Mountain Vineyards. Now with his own label, the master winemaker produces a lush, full-bodied Cabernet with notes of loganberry and vanilla ($210). Chateau Marquis d’Alesme Becker, Margaux, France (2003)—This magnum is a Bordeaux blend to satisfy a large group in both quality and quantity, offering hefty notes of cassis and tobacco ($280).
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/GETTY IMAGES (STERN)

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BLT Steak’s Basil heaven is made with Hendrick’s gin, St-Germain, cucumbers, fresh lemon juice, and basil.

continued from page 64 through that fatty goodness. Of course, the steak is the real star. Convince your dining companion to go for the 28-day dryaged prime porterhouse for two. Sometimes referred to as a “T-bone,” the mammoth cut includes a portion of the lean tenderloin as well as a beautifully marbled strip steak. Finished with an herb butter, the steak can stand alone, but that would be a travesty when there are classic steakhouse sides to indulge in like creamed spinach and towering onion rings as well as more esoteric offerings such as Hen of the Woods mushrooms. Surprisingly, the most expensive menu item ($52) is the sautéed Dover sole served with soy caper brown butter. This riff on the classic French Dover sole à la meunière, delicately prepared and presented with a miniature bouquet garni, epitomizes the kitchen staff’s classic French training and high level of expertise. Desserts are limited to a select few with a rotating roster of ice creams and sorbets, but there is one must-have: the peanut butter chocolate mousse with house-made banana ice cream. Balsamo says that customers revolted when the restaurant foolishly attempted to remove the item from the menu—and with good reason. The decadent confection is deceptively light and the perfect finish to a multicourse feast. Expect a lively crowd on the weekends as word spreads about BLT’s Southampton arrival. The restaurant anticipates serving more than 300 guests per night on Friday and Saturday, but it feels more like a family wedding than a disparate crowd. “Everyone knows each other,” marvels Balsamo, who, like many of the staff, has arrived in the East End without expectation. “It’s great to see people milling about the room and chatting with each other as if they were in their own backyard.” 281 County Road 39A, Southampton, 259-2641 H

best bites

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE LEFT:

Roasted chicken from East Hampton Grill; Chilaquiles at Hampton Coffee; and Almond’s dining room.

BRIDGEHAMPTON RESIDENT ALISON BROD, PUBLICIST FOR LUXURY CLIENTS LIKE MERCEDES BENZ AND VAN CLEEF & ARPELS, SHARES WHICH TRIED AND TRUE EATERIES RANK ON HER LIST OF TOP DESTINATIONS OUT EAST.

Almond
Going to Eric Lemonides’s restaurant is like going to a friend’s house for dinner (only with a check). The mac-and-cheese is baked penne with a golden-brown top, and it’s spectacular. 1 Ocean Road, Bridgehampton, 537-5665; almondrestaurant.com

American Pie Pizzeria
I love these guys and their strip mall pizza and gelato in Bridgehampton Commons. 2044 Montauk Hwy., Bridgehampton, 613-6177; hamptonsamericanpie.com

Citarella
Even though I still haven’t learned to make pizza myself, I am good at organizing all the fresh ingredients from Citarella to prep for someone else to use continued on page 68
Alison Brod tells her favorite places to dine on the East End.

BLT Steak at Capri
I’m so happy to see a pop-up of BLT Steak

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIC STRIFFLER (ALMOND); PENNY DE LOS SANTOS (CHICKEN); BRIAN ACH/WIREIMAGE (BROD)

out East this summer because sometimes four kids’ birthday parties a day makes you hungry for giant, steaming hot popovers. I am not afraid of carbs! 281 County Road, Southampton, 504-6575; caprisouthampton.com

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