I had such a great meal at the Bridgehampton Inn shortly after it opened in June that I had to go back to see if the Bridgehampton Inn, if ANY institution, could maintain such high standards of cuisine and service in the off-season. Oh my, like fine wine, the circa 1790 inn continues to improve with age. Reviewer Gael Greene told me years ago to “always find something wrong,” when doing a restaurant review. The ONLY thing wrong with the Bridgehampton Inn is that it’s not in Sag Harbor Village where I live!
My husband started, as he’s prone to do, with a Brooklyn gin on the rocks. I had a Violet Margarita; it was refreshing and light with a mild, salty bite. I have no memory of what was in it. Bridgehampton Inn bartender Kyle van Kempen’s creations have that effect on me.
We started with the Harvest Squash and Pumpkin Soup. Husband’s comment on it was, “Oh, wow. It’s autumn in a cup.” I concurred and would add that it possesses what I can only describe as an “effortless texture.” I was amazed that it was made without cream—Chef Arie Pavlou worked this autumnal magic with pumpkin seeds, toasted almonds and cider, bringing the savory and the sweet into perfect harmony.
The fritter this week was clam—in fact the menu read “Clam Week” at the top. The fritter was rich and lightly crisp with a delicately gooey interior. Fabulous.
I had the Mushroom Moussaka which was a rich and tender festival of umami with a pleasant touch of thyme. Its mild cheese made it a great start to the meal in my book. I ordered an entrée of Hake with Chickpeas and Clams. Meltingly soft and flavorful, it was the platonic ideal of cooked fish.
Husband quite enjoyed his main dish of Chicken Chasseur with mushrooms—Chef Arie loves working with local fungus—but Husband tasted my hake and declared it THE dish of the evening. Though “Anna’s Cheesecake” did turn his head. “Anna” is of course Anna Pump, Sybille’s mother, co-owner of the Bridgehampton Inn and owner of Loaves & Fishes Food Shop in Sagaponack. I ordered her cheesecake for dessert but Husband had to “help.” I make a mean cheesecake myself so I found his reaction a bit much, but took heart in the fact that I own all of Pump’s cookbooks—I figured I can make this very cheesecake. Nope, Sybille shook her head, “It’s not in any of the books yet.”
The Bridgehampton Inn continues to change both its menu and its cocktail menu on a weekly basis. This allows the staff to take full advantage of seasonal produce—and it’s impressive as hell. Just as impressive to the off-season crowds has been the Inn’s prix fixe menu. It’s $35 for two courses, $40 for three courses, served Wednesday/Thursday/Sunday, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. It also changes weekly and includes the option of swapping out a course for a glass of wine—Prosecco, Palmer chardonnay or Barbera. This math, of course, led my husband to immediately ask Sybille if one could swap ALL course for glasses of wine. She did not say “no.” Though her son mans the bar, Sybille has created and expanded the BI wine list. As she says, she’s “very focused on pairings with food.” Local selections include Castello di Borghese, Paumanok and Wölffer.
What should you expect to find on BI’s fall menus? They do a duck dish and a fish dish every week, as well as some type of fritter. You can surely expect expert iterations of venison, apples, pears, squash and cauliflower. I hope they’ll tackle some German classics.
It was telling that while in the dining room that evening we heard a multitude of accents including French, German, Italian and Spanish, “Bridgehampton” and—between bites—“Sag Harbor.”
Bridgehampton Inn, 2266 Main Street, Bridgehampton, 631-537-3660, bridgehamptoninn.com.