How about this for an editorial snack: The Southampton Social Club (SSC) is not just a nightclub. While my prior perception of the Elm Street locale centered around its ability to create a Hamptons nightlife scene, a recent visit revealed that they have also set the bar high for a welcoming, fine dining experience.
Walking into the Southampton Village locale on a warm July evening, my family and I immediately bee lined for a table out back. We were pleased to find that the Social Club’s grounds are like a well-manicured Hamptons backyard. Casual, functional and dotted with hydrangea.
The dining scene is inviting, lest I forget to mention that the Social Club is not a “club” in the sense that it’s exclusive. The $30 prix fixe, with its abundant menu, is key to squashing any misconceptions the name may give. (It’s available until 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and all evening Sunday through Thursday.)
We started with some drinks – my dad was pleased to see that his no nonsense Guinness was not only on tap, a rarity in these parts, but topped off with the Social Club’s dual “S” logo written in foam. “Experience from years of pouring,” explained the bartender. Can I be so lucky to return on St. Patrick’s Day and find a shamrock on top of mine? I went with the Whispering Angel Rose, a light French rendition of the classic wine.
We stalled on ordering, content to sip, soak in the scenery and chat with Chef Scott Kampf. A “transplant local,” he talked to us about his time on “Iron Chef” with Bobby Flay, his culinary relationship with the New York Giants – he caters their tailgates! – and his charitable work with the Breast Center at Southampton Hospital.
Chef Kampf started us off with a smorgasbord of eight appetizers, which includes most of the menu’s options. The Social Club offers an appetizer platter and a dessert platter – which we sampled later – for tables of four and up, as a part of its regular dining options.
The emphasis at the Social Club is on healthy foods – a quick glance at the menu reveals light but flavorful dishes, local and organic ingredients.
Among my favorites: The Edamame & Chickpea Hummus, which is made with roasted garlic & citrus with kalamata olives. And, get this, there is no added oil in the hummus. The only juices are from the chickpeas. Hemp flatbread is the vehicle to transfer this into your mouth, making the appetizer decidedly vegan. But fear not, readers who have a negative epicurean perception of “vegan:” Flavor is not compromised.
After the hummus, I moved on to the SSC Lobster Rolls – a lobster salad sandwiched in between two halves of a toasted croissant. If a lobster crawled into a French patisserie, I don’t think he would have any other choice than to beg the baker to steam him up and throw him onto a croissant. That’s how good this dish is – savory, light, buttery, flaky.
Then, there was the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, which gained my sister’s ‘I-go-to-school-in-Baltimore-so-I-know-about-crabs’ seal of approval. It paired well with the Burrata Caprese – thick cuts of local heirloom tomatoes and a puffy, creamy Burrata cheese. Made from mozzarella and, yes, cream, it’s flown in fresh from the motherland (Italia).
In short, the appetizer platter is the perfect introduction to a Hamptons evening: a complement to drinks and girl talk, a meal before grabbing a movie, a stop after getting off of the train…
For an entrée, I went with the Sautéed Lobster Capellini with grilled artichoke hearts in a caviar chive lobster broth. Though the pasta-to-lobster ratio was a little less than what I would have wanted, the sauce was very light. A definite perk, as I needed to save room for the dessert, after all.
My sister went with the Charred Vegetable Napoleon, which I happily sampled, as she turned her back on more than one occasion. It’s made with layers of grilled summer squash, zucchini, chanterelle mushrooms, eggplant and tomato, and it’s served with organic red quinoa and heirloom tomato reduction.
No meal would be complete without dessert, and Chef Kampf brought out a platter of four of his creations: white chocolate mousse, Junior’s deconstructed cheesecake, coconut crème brulee and a Tatewich, a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich. Without going into detail on how decadent and utterly delicious each one of these desserts are, suffice it to say that the Tate’s creation was my favorite. French vanilla ice cream between my favorite cookie (with chocolate fudge and caramel crème). So simple, yet so genius.
Southampton Social Club, 256 Elm Street, Southampton. 631-287-1400, www.southamptonsocialclub.com.