In 2014, November 13 fell on a Thursday. As a result, Le Charlot celebrated its first anniversary in Southampton on Friday the 13 this year. Owner Theirry Gelormini was unconcerned about the superstition surrounding this date. With eight fine champagnes to choose from, what could possibly go wrong? Not a thing. Gelormini and his brother, Bruno, have run the popular Manhattan flagship of Le Charlot, located on the Upper East Side, since 1995.
When my husband and I went to Le Charlot in Southampton for an autumnal dinner for two, I asked Gelormini what the most popular dishes had been during Le Charlot’s first summer in the Hamptons. He told us that the Lobster Salad appetizer, the Tiger Shrimp and the Thai Mussels were the hottest items inside Le Charlot and out on their deck. He also mentioned that the Cajun Chicken is a huge seller. Brunch was a popular meal at Le Charlot in its first summer—especially for those seeking French toast and authentic omelettes.
Right now, in this gorgeous fall season, Le Charlot is offering prix fixe menus for both lunch and dinner. And for their first Thanksgiving in the Hamptons, they offered a special holiday prix fixe meal.
I love it when Le Charlot’s sommelier appears as if by magic tableside. I began the meal with a fine house sauvignon blanc, so I may have lost some of the evening’s details…I recall someone saying bon soir at the door every time a patron entered, and I remember French pop music wafting through the air, as well as a bevy of trim Frenchmen in black scurrying around. Our server Lucas stood out in both the French and handsome departments. He said he’s been working for Gelormini under a G-1 Visa. He’d done six months in the kitchen and now was onto his six months in the dining room. After his first trial-by-fire summer in the Hamptons, he prefers the front of house.
Husband began with a red Cote du Rhone, which I sampled and found nicely deep and dark.
Mixologist Simon recently debuted five new cocktails that play on the restaurant’s name, Le Charlot, which is the French name for Charlie Chaplin’s famous tramp character. Gelormini says of Simon, “He blows me away.” The cocktails are named after Chaplin classics: The Gold Rush, Charlie’s Hat, Modern Times, The Rink and The Cure.
Chef Yllan Laloum, formerly of New York’s Casimir, has created an enticing array of dinner options. I was tempted by the Lobster Risotto but went with the soup du jour to start, which was mushroom with sour cream—so rich and smooth with a distinct “mushroom!” flavor. I licked the back of the spoon when I was “done.” Be sure to get a grind or two of fresh black pepper on top.
Husband started with the Lobster Salad with arugula, pineapple and grapefruit. He said, “It’s great. Very fresh-tasting.”
My Chicken Curry was all white meat and mild, served over basmati rice, with mango chutney. It was nicely light and served in a gorgeous presentation.
Husband tried one of the specials that evening, Pan-Seared Black Bass with cherry tomatoes and Jerusalem artichokes. He quite liked it.
With dessert I discovered that I prefer the special dessert offering, an apple tart, with its caramelized edges, to the apple tarte Tatin. Husband dove into the Molten Chocolate Cake. He judged it to be “absurdly rich” as he slurped it all down.
Of course Le Charlot’s wine list includes a fine selection of French wines, some offered by the glass at very reasonable prices. Local favorite Wölffer Estate Vineyard is also on the bill. Qu’importe le flacon, pourvu qu’on ait l’ivresse?
Le Charlot, 36 Main Street, Southampton, 631-353-3222, lecharlot.us.