The mood was joyous and the offerings were flawless. If you only visit one Hamptons restaurant this season—make it the Bridgehampton Inn & Restaurant!
At long last the South Fork has produced a competitor for the North Fork Table & Inn’s designation as “Best Restaurant on Long Island.” Book now—they’ve added parking, but it’s going to fill up fast.
The new restaurant at the iconic Inn continues and expands upon its well-earned reputation for artfully blending Old World sensibilities (i.e. perfectionism) and New World local ingredients. It’s the same, popular Inn but the dining rooms have gotten a revamp that includes bright orange vinyl seating, hand-blown water glasses with striking orange swirl patterns and vintage black and white photos on the walls depicting Bridgehampton’s agrarian history. Plus there’s now a sizeable bar set up outside the kitchen and extensive outdoor seating. The service, as always, is top notch. And, yes, of course there are fresh-cut flowers on every table.
Management of the Inn has been shared between mother-and-daughter owners Anna Pump and Sybille van Kempen since it opened in 1994 . The restaurant, which opened on June 4, is “Sybille’s baby,” according to Pump. Van Kempen’s culinary degree and 34 years of experience at Loaves & Fishes Gourmet Take-out in Sagaponack have come into full bloom at the Inn. The dinner menu and the cocktail menu change weekly. This shows ambition unprecedented in the Hamptons.
Chef de Cuisine Arie Pavlou points out that keeping up this pace with the weekly dinner menu means creating 800 recipes a year! He seemed a little overwhelmed but clearly excited. He said, “It’s fun, though it’s challenging!” He’s also over the moon that the Inn is planting their new herb garden this week. Some form of duck and local fish are on each week’s menu and also some type of fritters, which have included artichoke, cod, leek, lobster and olive so far.
My husband and I have long been fans of Pavlou’s work. We enjoyed his creations at the former Comtesse Therese Bistro in Aquebogue. But the food at the Bridgehampton Inn is still more delightful—as it’s not freighted with being strictly French at every turn. It’s a bit lighter and more open to delicious evolution. The drinks menu is curated by Sybille’s son and bartender Kyle, a young man who clearly inherited his grandmother’s and mother’s keen sense of culinary adventure.
I started things off with a Blackberry Cloud of St. George Botanivore gin, house blackberry vodka infusion and fresh lime juice topped with an old-fashioned, but newly popular, egg white froth and a slice of lime. It was nicely, mildly sour and did put me on a “cloud” for the duration of the meal. Apparently Kyle doesn’t skimp on the firewater.
I also concluded my meal with seasonal berries—with Loaves & Fishes’ blackberry pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. True to Loaves & Fishes pies’ legendary status, the big, juicy berries were not overly sweetened.
You will not find many items on the menu from Loaves & Fishes Gourmet Take-out other than their famous pies and rote grütze, but the Inn happily shares the Loaves & Fishes’ access to top cheese mongers to fill their weekly cheese plates.
Husband started the evening off with a martini made with Brooklyn gin. It arrives with three bright green olives in the glass that later proved to be buttery and deliciously yielding. He found this gin “very orangey,” but quite approved of the drink.
But you want to know about the foods we enjoyed, of course: a fine, cured gravelox with potato pancakes, the deliciously simple black truffle bowl that contained more truffle than any dish I’ve ever been served in this country, a smooth, cream-free corn soup that I suspect is addictive, scallops seared to sweet, buttery perfection in a mild saffron curry sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and a rich chicken paella featuring mushrooms, olives, artichokes, peas and baby lima beans served piping hot.
Our server Joann suggested Palmer Vineyards’ Albarino to complement the scallops—an excellent choice. Other local wines on offer include a selection from Castello Di Borghese and Paumanok.
Local is best!
Brunch service begins July 13. Bridgehampton Inn & Restaurant, 2266 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton, 631-537-3660, bridgehamptoninn.com.