The Café Hampton No opened last Friday night. It’s been long anticipated. A collaboration of Daniel Boulud and Pino Grigio, it had been swamped with callers wishing to make reservations since it was announced as “coming soon” last May, as everybody knows from the reports in The Post and The News. Now it is here. And what an opening night it was.
Alec Baldwin huddled with Jack Nicholson in the banquette overlooking the fountain. With them was Kathleen Turner, looking as beautiful as ever. Billy Joel was at the table overlooking the boats with a bunch of lovely young things. His boat was right out front of course. So was Jimmy Buffett’s. He sat at table 4, right by the maitre d’ stand with Steven Spielberg. (The maitre d’, by the way, is Eliot Spitzer, a curious choice.) Buffett and a friend of his, who we think was East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach, were discussing Christie’s Broadway debut in Chicago. As for me, I had a table for eight, as I always do, and with me were Bianca Jagger and Yoko Ono, who I had coaxed out from the Dakota for the weekend. I had wanted her to meet Paul Simon, who surprised us by showing up with his once-upon-a-time partner Art Garfunkel, who he said was out at his place for the weekend. I also had Bonnie and Stewart Lane at my table. Also Donald Trump and Prince William. Apparently, there is a new royal palace afoot in Brighton and Trump is going to have his name on the door. At least that’s what the two of them said. Although they did have a bit to drink at the time. [expand]
At the next table, Paul McCartney and his bride-to-be Nancy Shevell were sharing a margarita. And two tables over from that were Sean Diddy Combs and Martha Stewart discussing some charity or other. We’ve certainly had our fill of charities already for the summer and it’s only July.
Executive Chef Pierre Mistraux, newly hired away from Restaurant Baux, the only restaurant in France ever to get five Michelin stars, made an appearance, accompanied by a line of waiters at 6:30 p.m., bringing a special chef’s treat—black caviar and truffled sour cream on cumin baguette puffs—for everybody. It was very well appreciated.
Jerry Seinfeld and Gwyneth Paltrow were at table 2 with Mercedes Ruehl, and they were deep in a conversation about the impact that Lenny Bruce had on comedy all those years ago.
Canoodling at table 6 by the kitchen was Kim Kardashian with her fiancé Kris Humphries, the Nets’ forward. Also at the table was Vera Wang, deep in some fashion conversation with Nicole Miller about a particular shade of white.
At table 7, next to them, was developer Harry Macklowe discussing the troubles in Abu Dhabi with investment banker Ron Baron.
Around 9, Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, showed up with his wife and sat at a table they had reserved by the patio. Elie Tahari was at table 8, playing a very intense game of chess with the new owner of the New Jersey Nets, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who, people say, is just a slot below being a grand master. With Tahari was a beautiful young woman from the chorus line of Spider-Man, as he told me, her arm linked with his.
I had a wonderful baked duck dish, with an accompaniment of lobster fromelarde and string beans a la Reykjavik. It is the restaurant’s signature dish, of course. A lot of people talked about Mistraux’s imaginative cuisine, and Kim Cattrall said, that frankly, she hoped he would make another appearance at the end of the evening, but he never did.
Christie Brinkley arrived just after midnight, all smiles, having flown out with Ron Perelman in his new jet helicopter after the completion of her final performance of Chicago at the Ambassador Theater. Now she’s off to London. At around 1 a.m., just before closing, Prince Albert Alexandre Pierre Grimaldi of Monaco arrived in his 210-foot yacht “Carmella,” which stuck out from the largest of the slips in front of the café. Most of his entourage stayed on the boat, where they were fed yummy “to-go” dishes from the kitchen.
The restaurant officially closed for the night at 2, but there were those of us who chose to stay on, because a very special guest had reserved a table on opening night after closing for his own private party. It was none other than Barack and Michelle Obama, who walked in the door. Barack is just back from South Africa. Michelle was in from the White House.
Accompanying the President and First Lady were Sarah Jessica Parker, Tina Fey, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his wife Judith Nathan and Barbra Streisand in from the coast.
We’d all wondered why the owners had put in a basketball hoop on the front lawn, and now we knew why. A latecomer to the after-party, General David Petraeus arrived by special military seaplane from Afghanistan at 2:30 a.m., and the President and he went at it in the old one on one, which the President won, but which the President graciously said the General had let him win. (The police did get a few phone calls from neighbors, but what could they do?).
Some of the restaurant goers had to be driven home at three in the morning by the staff, and you probably know who they were, don’t you, we all do—some of them were leftover from when the restaurant was officially open earlier in the evening—but we won’t tell anybody about that.
We also won’t tell about all the men who left with women other than who they came in with. That would not be nice.
I’m told there are a few tables that still haven’t been booked for some during-the-week evenings this summer, although for the rest, there’s not a seat to be had until after the Hamptons International Film Festival in October. You might just give the restaurant a call and book a couple of those random tables, or, maybe there will be a cancellation or something. J Lo, Paris Hilton, Justin Timberlake and Madonna had been expected for opening night, but had to cancel for one reason or another. Their table, table 10, remained vacant and forlorn—apparently each thought one of the others had canceled. Of course, you could always come with me to my table for eight. I have it reserved every night of the summer.
I left with two old friends—Alan Alda’s wife Arlene on one arm and designer Betsy Johnson on the other. Of course, my wife was laughing at some of the others coming out with us too. That Walter Isaacson is such a card with all these Einstein jokes. He actually told jokes about light bulbs, Einstein did. It was a memorable moment for me, those light bulb jokes.
I won’t talk at all about the fight between “Housewives of New York” Jill Zarin and singer Courtney Love. There was a lot of flying from the chandeliers and hair pulling about something. But you know how it is.
I’d call it a successful opening, I would. [/expand]