Inside and Outside the ‘New’ Bridgehampton Inn

The Bridgehampton Inn.
The Bridgehampton Inn. Photo credit: Jarno Huttunen

The Bridgehampton Inn’s restaurant, which opened in June, is just one part of a growing East End hospitality dynasty. The restaurant continues and expands upon the iconic Inn’s well-earned reputation for artfully blending Old World and New World sensibilities. 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.

Owner of Loaves & Fishes Food Store, cookbook author and innkeeper Anna Pump has been quietly serving the gourmet catering needs of East End foodies since 1980. Her only daughter, Sybille van Kempen, worked with her from early on. In 1990 they penned the cookbook The Loaves and Fishes Party Cookbook together.

Pump and van Kempen, with the support of Pump’s late husband, Detlef, opened the Bridgehampton Inn in 1994. The six-room establishment quickly became a destination hotel. Pump detailed the Inn’s opening and its day-to-day workings in Country Weekend Entertaining, published by Doubleday in 1999. Sybille and her husband, Gerrit van Kempen, opened the popular kitchenalia emporium, the Loaves and Fishes Cookshop, in Bridgehampton’s downtown in 2003.

Pump avers that she herself is not a chef, but “someone who loves to cook…I always think of new things to do.” Sybille’s elder son Stefan is now serving as manager of Loaves & Fishes Food Store.

Pump’s journey to the South Fork began in Tarp, Germany. Much like Bridgehampton, her native region is a narrow strip of land between two bodies of water. She met and married Detlef Pump. They and their two children, Harm and Sybille, emigrated to the United States in 1960, settling in Frenchtown, NJ. Pump first visited the East End in the 1970s. She and her husband bought and restored an 18th century house in Noyac in 1978 and in 1980 took over the Loaves & Fishes shop in Sagaponack.

Though management of the Inn has been shared between mother and daughter since it opened, the restaurant is “Sybille’s baby,” according to Pump. And recently Pump passed the reigns of running the Inn over to her daughter. Sybille’s culinary degree and 34 years of experience at Loaves & Fishes Food Store have come into full bloom at the Inn. The dinner menu AND the cocktail menu continue to change weekly. Last week the restaurant began serving from its first prix fixe menu. Even that menu changes weekly to take full advantage of the best produce that the changing seasons have to offer.

Sybille works closely with Chef Arie Pavlou on the menus. The two sit down to scheme each Sunday, asking, “what’s prolific, what’s ahead?” A recent confluence of local clams led to a menu that read “Clam Week” at the top. Some form of duck and local fish are on each week’s menu, as well as some type of fritters, which have included artichoke, cod, leek, lobster, olive, zucchini and clam.

I enjoyed Pavlou’s work at the former Comtesse Therese Bistro in Aquebogue. The food at the Inn is still more delightful—as it’s not freighted with being strictly French. It’s a bit lighter and more open to delicious evolution. The drinks menu is curated by Sybille’s younger son and bartender, Kyle, a young man who clearly inherited his grandmother’s and mother’s keen sense of culinary adventure.

Over the course of the summer Sybille has expanded the Bridgehampton Inn’s wine list from one page to three through delicious trial. As she says, she is “very much focused on pairing with food.” And since she “still likes them all,” wines stay on the list. The Inn will be hosting wine dinners, beginning with Palmer Vineyards in November.

In addition to opening the restaurant, the Inn is also adding another six guest rooms, with groundbreaking scheduled for September 29. Though Sybille has meticulously planned the construction schedule so as not to disturb the existing Inn’s guests, she is nevertheless offering a 30% discount on rooms during the construction period. This business owner knows how to cover all the bases—thoroughly, calmly, with an eye to home. When asked when the new rooms will open, Sybille informs matter-of-factly: “May. They’re already booked.”

A store is also planned for the Inn complex. The fence in front is coming down and Sybille is adding benches and a fountain at the front of the property to “welcome the public in.” Yes, a fountain is coming to the heart of our rustic East End, and with it, and all that the Pump/van Kempen line is putting forth, a refined European village aesthetic.

When it comes to food and hospitality, Bridgehampton is fairly dominated by Anna Pump and her descendants. When asked to comment on her position as the head of a food dynasty, Pump says, “It has all come by evolving. I just love
good food.”

Is Sybille “becoming her mother?” She says, “I guess I am, in a way I’ve always been. I think that [comparison] is a wonderful compliment.”

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