By Kelly Laffey
I’ve always marvelled how people in countries outside of the United States have lunch as their main meal, and dinner almost as an afterthought. Why is that? I hear it’s healthier – the whole ‘you shouldn’t eat four hours before you go to sleep’ rule is definitely at play – but it must be one of those things that’s lost in translation as you cross the Atlantic. Still, the idea is intriguing. So, with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I chose to dine at 75 Main, one of the few Hamptons hotspots on the forefront of the movement to bring white-tablecloth, romantic service to the oft-ignored midday meal.
I arrived at the Southampton restaurant, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the menu included a wide variety of light and hearty dishes, as well as savory breakfast items.
In the mood for a more traditional lunch – i.e. a sandwich – I went with the Calabrese Panini. The Panini, with grilled chicken, mozzarella, red roasted peppers and a pesto sauce, could have easily been mistaken with something genuinely made in Italy. There was the perfect amount of pesto – enough to add its distinctive flavor to the sandwich without seeping through the bread to create a soggy mess.
My mom sampled the popular Chop Salad, which comes with gorgonzola, red roasted pepper, candied walnuts, cranraisins and red onions, all expertly tossed with chopped lettuce and a balsamic vinaigrette. I have to say – having the lettuce chopped really makes a difference. The salad is so much easier to eat! The ingredients were fresh, and the candied walnuts were toasted to perfection. I hate when I order a healthy salad and the walnuts are either too salty or too sweet. Definitely not the case here. We opted to have shrimp added to the salad, and it was freshly grilled with a subtle spicy kick.
In addition to their regular fare, 75 Main will also offer a special Valentine’s Day Menu on Saturday, February 11. Available all day, the selections include Seared Maine Sea Scallop, Potato Gnocchi, Sauteed Striped Bass – which, with the accompanying cumin spiced artichoke puree, butter glazed yellow romano beans and blood orange emulsion, may be my favorite option – and Pan Roasted Lamb Loin.
Our server mentioned that the Penne Primavera, which is on the regular menu and includes sauteed zucchini, yellow squash, red roasted pepper, diced tomato and garlic in a white wine olive oil, was another popular dish. Interesting to note, too, is that the restaurant is very kid-friendly with a $10 Children’s Menu.
Now, onto the important, Valentine-y parts of a meal: Wine and dessert. I chose to have an Italian Pinot Grigio, and my mom went with the Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rose from Cote du Provence, France. Natasha, the maître d’, noted that the Whispering Angel was a popular summer choice because of its crisp, light taste. But, it’s also a perfect, not-too-filling lunch option. And the pink hue suits the upcoming romantic holiday.
At Natasha’s request, we had a taste of the Sauvigon Blanc, which hails from the up-and-coming New Zealand wine scene. Again, the citrus flavors make this an excellent choice for lunch, especially when paired with the signature Chop Salad.
The dessert menu included a wide range of decadent options – and the February 11 menu will add Red Velvet Lava Cake and Chocolate Mousse Cheese Cake to the mix. In the interest of Valentine’s Day, I went with the Red Velvet cake. The usual option on the menu is sans lava, but I could not imagine a tastier cake. It was divine, the body of the cake was moist, and the thin layer of icing added a touch of sweetness. It was topped with freshly whipped cream that artfully blended all of the flavors together.
Truthfully, I’m still daydreaming about that cake. I know where I’ll be come Valentine’s Day weekend.
75 Main, 75 Main Street, Southampton. 631-283-7575. www.75main.com. Additional location coming soon in Delray Beach, Florida.