THIS WEEK: FALL FLAVORS

Tuna Tartare with hand-chopped sushi-grade tuna, avocado, and deviled egg is a popular dish at East Hampton Grill.

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culinary comfort
ELEVATING CLASSIC DISHES WITH LOCALLY SOURCED INGREDIENTS, EAST HAMPTON GRILL OFFERS A RESPITE FOR END OF SUMMER DINING.
BY MATTHEW WEXLER PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIC STRIFFLER

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ven in East Hampton—one of the most idyllic places on earth—you aesthetic into a dark-paneled, dimly lit library may find yourself in need of some serious comfort food by August. vibe with an art collection that will instill envy Traffic on Montauk Highway is unbearable (as it was back in May), in anyone with an empty wall. Don’t be fooled your linen outfit has seen one too many wine dribbles or canapé mishaps to by these fresh-faced twenty-somethings, though. Some have arrived with survive another cocktail party, and you’d rather have someone else do the a top-notch pedigree through Hillstone’s management-training program, dishes. Enter East Hampton Grill. Once home to the infamous Della Femina now based out of the East Hampton Grill and overseen by Diehl herself. Both she and Baydoun are relatively new to the East End restaurant (caricatures of former owner Jerry Della and have been quite taken by its charm. “I have found Femina and wife Judy Licht still loom over the dining [East Hampton] is one of the most welcoming and tightroom as eternal party hosts), Hillstone Restaurant knit communities I’ve ever lived in,” says Baydoun. Group reinvented the space in 2011 as homage to “You can’t go somewhere without seeing someone you Americana with a modern twist. know. And we were excited as an organization to move General manager Sarah Diehl and dining room into the neighborhood.” manager Gibran Baydoun oversee the swanky dining continued on page 140 room that was redesigned from its former whitewashed JOHN MCCONNELL

ABOVE, FROM LEFT: Dining Room Manager Gibran Baydoun, General Manager Sarah Diehl, and Culinary Manager John McConnell.

“We’re creating food that is unique but also familiar.”

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OFF THE VINE
“Wine and beverages are made to pair with food,” says general manager Sarah Diehl, “so they should be accessible without breaking the bank.” Most of East Hampton Grill’s wines are only minimally marked up, and there’s no corkage fee. But why bring your own with these picks? • Laurenz V., Laurenz und Sophie Singing Grüner Veltliner, Austria ($46)—A zippy summer white that presents notes of apple and peach with a hint of white pepper and fine acidity. • Domaine Serene, Evenstat Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley ($90)—This Oregon Pinot Noir is restrained and concentrated with red fruits and baking spice. • O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery, Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain ($138)—The quintessential California Cabernet with a long finish and no heavy tannins.

Oysters St. Charles (fried oysters on the half shell with creamed spinach, artichokes, and lemon aioli) are a standout on East Hampton Grill’s menu.

continued from page 138 That welcoming attitude translates to impeccable and occasionally overzealous service. Order a refreshing (and potent) Vesper martini, and if you haven’t consumed it in a matter of minutes, a server will inevitably swoop in to replace your glass with a freshly chilled one. This may happen repeatedly, but with such stealth and precision you’ll wonder if Diehl is secretly training staff for the FBI. “Tight service is what gives us an edge here,” says Diehl. The informed servers can guide you through the menu, which on the page appears fairly straightforward but contains hidden gems that reflect locally sourced ingredients and Hillstone’s culinary viewpoint. “We’re creating food that is unique but also familiar,” says culinary manager John McConnell. “We’ll add an extra ingredient or pairing to play with this idea of anticipation. The initial interpretation from the menu will give you a vision, but what arrives at the table will have a wow factor.” The Oysters St. Charles is just such a dish. A riff on Oysters Rockefeller, a half-dozen delicately fried Malpeques arrive nestled in their shells atop creamed spinach and artichoke. A dollop of lemon aioli seals the deal for the beginning of a great meal. But just as you think the evening may go too highbrow, tear into a Heavenly Biscuit flecked with rosemary and served with a slab of butter topped with coarse sea salt and a squeezable honey bear from The Hamptons Honey Company. McConnell, who arrived in East Hampton this spring but has been with the restaurant group for more than three years, brings a bright-eyed freshness to the menu and serious culinary chops. A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, he completed an internship and worked at Terra in Napa continued on page 142

A ROOM WITH A VIEW
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHEBEKO (WINE)

Reclaimed American white oak flooring in the bar, custom mahogany finishes, and pin-spot lighting set the stage for an art collection that may rival those of nearby galleries on Park Place. Hillstone owner and CEO George Biel has amassed an array of pieces from notable artists including Chuck Close, Dan Rizzie, Michael Dweck, and Suzanne Caporael. Although all tables are open to the hustle and bustle, request Table 42 to be in the middle of the action and take in the impressive display. If you’d prefer a more secluded enclave, opt for Table 3, where you can observe the open kitchen and watch the service staff’s fast-paced comings and goings under a sign that reads LA TOUCHE FINALE.

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continued from page 140 Valley under chef Hiro Sone, followed by time at Robert Sinskey Vineyards, where he discovered his passion for wine. McConnell has been sourcing much of the produce and seafood from nearby Round Swamp Farm, but is quick to point out that he doesn’t want to clutter the menu with a laundry list of purveyors. “Being [in East Hampton] is a great resource. It’s an opportunity to get our staff excited and tell the story of these ingredients, so we keep the menu short and as simple as possible.” Entrée descriptions state the obvious but leave the bells and whistles for the plate. Jumbo lump crab cakes are for the purist, forgoing bread crumbs and filler for a crab-only cake served with whole-grain Pommery mustard and coleslaw. The barbecued ribs have a cult following and with due cause. Slow-roasted overnight and fall-off-the-bone tender, the ribs are finished with a secret-recipe barbecue sauce that balances smoke, sweet, and heat. Arriving on a massive diner-style platter with a heaping pile of shoestring fries, its presentation is the polar opposite of specials such as the locally sourced wild striped bass “Royale” (a reinvention of Filet Oscar), served with tender asparagus topped with crab meat and Béarnaise sauce. Desserts are sharable and familiar. The key lime pie with graham cracker crust is a refreshing palate-cleanser, while the hot fudge sundae with locally made vanilla ice cream will put a smile on your face—even if it is the end of summer. 99 N. Main St., East Hampton, 329-6666; easthamptongrill.com H
Key lime pie with graham cracker crust is a refreshing palate-cleanser.

healthy living
VACATIONING IN THE HAMPTONS FOR YEARS ESPECIALLY IN MONTAUK NUTRITIONIST KERI GLASSMAN NAMES HER TOP SPOTS FOR WHOLESOME EATS OUT EAST.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

Fresh Hampton has a seasonal menu and Round Swamp Farm features local produce, which Keri Glassman loves.

Fresh Hamptons
The name of this rustic eatery says it all: a seasonal menu filled with gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options; most fruits and vegetables are organic and local; plus the fish, meat, and poultry are free of antibiotics and hormones. And you get to choose the size of your fish entrée, so you have complete control over your portions. Love this! My choice: raw local kale with hemp seed hearts, sugar plum tomatoes, red peppers, zucchini, and fines herbes lemongrass vinaigrette. 203 Bridgehampton–Sag Harbor Tpk., Bridgehampton, 537-4700; freshhamptons.com

for the whole family features gluten-free dosas (large, crispy sourdough crepes) and uttapams (savory pancakes) served with fresh chutneys, as well as soups and sandwiches. My choice: seasonal dosa. 6 Main St., Amagansett, 267-3131; hamptonchutney.com

Harvest on Fort Pond
Inspired by homegrown produce and local seafood, this family-style Italian wonder offers outdoor seating in the middle of its very own herb and vegetable garden overlooking the water—talk about farm- and sea-to-table! My choice: mussels, clams, scallops, and shrimp with a side of spinach with mushrooms, garlic, and shallots. 11 S. Emery St., Montauk, 668-5574; harvest2000.com

Fishbar
Fish doesn’t get much better than this. The seafood served at this Montauk beauty is local and delicately prepared, and there is a selection of delicious vegetarian entrées loaded with fresh produce. Be sure to snag a seat outside. My choice: steamed lobster with grilled local sweet corn, red potatoes, drawn butter, and fresh lemon. 467 E. Lake Dr., Montauk, 668-6600; freshlocalfish.com

Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee
As a java junkie, I am head-over-heels for Jack’s stir-brew coffee. It’s organic, fair-trade, and shade-grown coffee. They also serve milk exclusively from Hudson Valley Fresh (in New York State), which allows its cows to graze freely without antibiotics and hormones. My choice: Hot coffee (yes, even in the summer!) with a splash of whole or low fat milk. continued on page 144

Hampton Chutney Company
Check out this Amagansett hideaway for some fun Indian-style dishes. This hot spot

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