When Tesla opened a showroom on Newtown Lane in East Hampton, I knew the best restaurant on earth would be not far behind. This is the Hamptons, after all.
Eleven Madison Park was rated as the best restaurant on earth in 2017 by the British magazine Restaurants. (Last year EMP was #3.) Restaurateurs look to this magazine for their annual ratings. EMP is also one of only six restaurants in New York City to get three Michelin Stars, Michelin’s highest rating.
Eating at a restaurant of this caliber is not so easy. You will have to have an American Express card to eat at the EMP Summer House. (You can pay cash, but it will be a lot of cash. That’s it.) In New York, for certain periods, they did not let you decide what to eat. At this level, they tell you.
Getting a reservation in either restaurant usually involves having a friend who can get you in. Otherwise the bookings run as much as a year ahead. On the other hand, we’ve been invited to the Summer House tonight. It’s for a pre–Bastille Day party.
The Hamptons is being blessed with EMP Summer House because the city restaurant closed for renovations for the summer and partners Will Guidara and Daniel Humm wanted to keep the staff together during that time. So, in the interim, they’ve moved the operation here.
In the city, from last April to June, the only item on the menu every day, for either lunch or dinner, was an 11-course meal “retrospective menu” for $295, gratuity included. Extra were the wines, but you could choose your wine, if you wished. The wine list was staggering—about 300 offerings. The dinner took three hours to eat, plus however long you took to decide on a wine.
But here at the Summer House, things are simpler and more summery. There is a menu with different items on it. Here is a sample of a main course, a lunch and a dessert. Bring your camera. It’s probably worth it to take pictures of these things before you eat.
Lobster Boil: Clams, shrimp, Andouille sausage, potatoes, corn, summer vegetables, parker house rolls, tomato salad and a seasonal pie. ($124 per person, minimum 5 people, maximum 12.)
Chicken Picnic: (for four people) Mamma Humm’s Boneless Fried Chicken Picnic (dark meat only) German potato salad, cucumber and watermelon salad, cheddar chive biscuits and a chili-lime aioli. (This is a takeout bargain— serves 4 people, total cost $135.)
Dessert: soft serve honey brittle, oat shortbread, milk meringue and buckwheat honey.
They make their own Ale. They get their own salt. Steven Judelson and his wife Natalie harvest it themselves from the ocean in Amagansett.
I could give you a review about the food and service at this restaurant but I won’t, because anything I might say will only reflect on my own shortcomings as a reviewer. The experts have already spoken. I will say they serve some of the world’s finest champagne. Tonight they will serve Dom Perignon 1998.
Also they don’t take reservations at the restaurant. It’s all done online at empsummerhouse.com, or by calling your concierge at American Express, if you’ve arranged to have a concierge. By the way, I tried both ways. Nothing available on the dates we were available. Maybe we can find a time next year. But no. Next year, EMP Summer House is not coming back. It’s just that they are here because of the renovation.
I’m going to lease the property for next summer. The restaurant will be called D. You get to be eligible for a reservation by entering a lottery whose once-a-month winners get to make reservations. I charge $500 a month to enter the lottery, paid in advance (with American Express Platinum).
But you’ll find all days and times booked. So you can’t eat there. Here’s a secret. Nobody eats there. This is the height of chic. And I save on salaries. No cooks, no waiters, no sommeliers, no concierges, no managers. And there’s no food.
In the fall, I’m off for the Hebrides. Enjoy.