“AOE” stands for The Art of Eating. You’ll see this abbreviation a lot in the new Parrish Art Museum’s café. This little hot spot is run by the Amagansett-based event planning and catering concern The Art of Eating, long a go-to source for some of the best weddings and events on the East End. Notably supplying the beach plum jelly party favors for Rufus Wainwright’s wedding last summer, AOE is known for using local ingredients.
I’d lunched at the new Parrish once before. I found my Vegetarian Tartine upon that visit quite tasty, but the butter knife I was given to cut it was not quite up to traditional French bread. Its topping of baby artichoke, green olive tapenade and preserved summer tomato was nicely vinegary. I was intrigued to try more food at the Parrish.
So when my husband and I popped into the museum last week to check out the student exhibition, we made a point of lunching in the café. In fact we started there…
The café is a remarkably spare space. Husband quite liked the Calder-esque lights overhead. If you’re not thinking about art and architecture when you sit in this space, well, perhaps you could be distracted by the food. In addition to the teatime sweets and sandwiches on display, the café offers a full menu prepared on site, featuring daily specials.
We started with the two soups du jour—Potato Leek and Mediterranean Fish, featuring local blackfish and shrimp. I quite enjoyed my smooth, rich potato soup, Husband found his soup not as hot as he would have liked temperature-wise—but nicely hot with red pepper.
I ordered up a Winter Chopped Salad of mixed greens, creamy feta, avocado, clementine sections, radishes and scallions, with burnt orange vinaigrette. A nicely balanced dish, the clementines’ sweetness melded well.
Husband went for the Grilled Vegetable Lasagna, which featured grilled peppers, mushrooms and eggplant. He quite liked it, finding it “good and not too salty like so many lasagnas.”
I very much enjoyed my first-ever Fizzy Lizzy Natural Soda—proof positive that I don’t get out nearly enough. Husband’s cappuccino merited his approval.
We were full enough and yet…looking over the menu we hit on splitting a Twice Baked Balsam Farm Organic Potato with its sweet potato swirl, sour cream and chives. We’re huge fans of Balsam Farm produce. When we ordered this, our server said we had to try a special, the Barley Burger—so we did. The potato was quite creamy but light. The burger, oh my. It was “bunless but not funless;” in my opinion the best veggie burger in these parts. Smothered in caramelized onions and mushrooms, drizzled with a horseradish mayo and served with sides of avocado slices and a tangy carrot salad—you’re hoping it’s a special at the café today, aren’t you?
We decided to peruse the exhibits and then circle back for dessert.
We loved the show—especially the second graders’ take on Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup cans. I wish I could buy that piece!
Back in the café we had a little roundup of goodies, all delish. Herbal Gathering’s shortbreads, an iced lemon and cracked pepper and a salty rosemary. A buckeye and a chocolate truffle that my husband downed so quickly I didn’t even get to smell them. Yummy, not-too-hard pistachio brittle and—the standout—a Brown Butter Pecan Raspberry Tart, which I ate in two very large bites. I snapped up a Vegan Lemon Bar to take back to the Dan’s Papers offices for our Sections Editor and fellow foodie, Kelly Laffey. She liked it. I never told her that it was vegan.
Café at the Parrish by Art of Eating is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. hamptonsartofeating.com