Hampton Eats

East End Experts Predict Hamptons Summer Dining Trends

As we gear up for another fabulous Hamptons summer, what trends do you see affecting East End dining and drinking this season? We asked some area experts in the food and beverage industry, and here’s what they had to say about North Fork and Hamptons summer dining trends:

As cliché as it may sound, I think people are associating the East End with fresh, local food, so they expect to see it on all of the menus. People are becoming educated and more familiar with the names of farmers and growers on the Island, and they want to see this being served when they go out to eat. If someone visits Balsam Farms during the day, they will get excited when they see something from Balsam Farms listed on a menu. It goes back to that connection and they want to be a part of that community.—Rachel Flatley, Pastry Chef of Honest Man Restaurants, which includes Nick & Toni’s, Rowdy Hall, La Fondita, Townline BBQ, Nick & Toni’s Café and Honest Catering

Natural wines and organic wines are on the rise. We’re just back from Paris where 90% of the wines are natural. I see cocktails growing more and more each year. We’re introducing more natural options, playing with infusions in vodka and rum and with teas. We did a fresh mint tea from our garden last year. This year we’re planting more herbs like verbena, not just for the kitchen….Chef Arie Pavlou, Bistro Été, Water Mill

As more people read labels, locally sourced products will remain a trend for the 2018 summer season. New products with East End brands have hit the market, but producing in faraway places and shipping in order to bottle on the East End is a very different story than being sourced and produced locally, which we’re committed to. This summer we’re excited to pair our rum, gin and whiskey cocktails with the delicious food at the Lobster Roll! When the doors open up, it’s a sure sign of summer.Kimberly Sarris Royal, Montauk Rumrunners, Montauk

Even more so now than in the past, we’re focusing on local sustainability. We’ve seen the markets jump all over the place because of availability issues and the fishery problems are complex. We’re going to do our part by incorporating more sustainable options at the Clam Bar. We’re also going to focus more on the “local” aspect. The East End is evolving and has much more than just wine to offer. We’re excited to introduce a new and improved menu! Don’t worry, our classics aren’t going anywhere. Expect to see a wider selection of “healthy items,” like more salads and grilled fish tacos! Expect to see smaller batch local beers, as well as hard seltzers and other gluten-free beverages and more.—Leigh Goodstein, General Manager, Clam Bar at Napeague, Napeague

“We’re seeing vegetables take on a more prominent role on many menus, rather than just a side dish. We’ve created more dishes this season that are lighter and more beach friendly, such as our new Persian Cucumber Salad with wakame and sesame, tossed with an orange ponzu.”Franklin Ferguson, Partner, Navy Beach, Montauk

Last year we made the first wine made with NOFA-NY Certified Organic Grapes (Bordo Antico) and this year we have made the first USDA Certified Organic Wine on the East Coast. So, the difference is that the previous was wine made with organic grapes, now we’ve made an organic wine with organic grapes in a certified winery, meaning no sulfites for preservation. This is a huge accomplishment for winemaking in our cool climate and wet region. This could not have been possible without the hard work and perseverance of grower Rex Farr.Anthony Nappa, Anthony Nappa Wines, Peconic

Anthony Nappa discusses Hamptons summer dining
Anthony Nappa, Photo: Stacy Dermont

Diners are continuing to become more informed about where their food comes from and are wanting to eat healthier. So the farm-to-table movement is here to stay, as is the sea-to-table movement. I also feel that the traditional concept of appetizer, entrée and dessert is being challenged as more guests want to try more menu items in a much more casual way, without giving up on the quality of food or service. With regards to the drinking scene, I’m working with my staff to really steer guests towards the Drink Local page of our wine book as I believe we’re producing some incredible wine right here in our backyard. As with the dinner menu I also feel that guests really don’t want to peruse a 20-page wine list but instead want to try something different every time they come in. At the bar itself, I think the creative cocktails using great, natural ingredients and the come back of the classics with a twist is going to continue to grow. Just being able to do what I love is what I’m excited about—we’re entering our 21st season, which is no small accomplishment out here in such a competitive and seasonal market—and, of course, the addition of The Plaza Cafe on Wheels [food truck]!Doug Gulija, chef/owner, The Plaza Café, Southampton

This year’s new small plates menu concept at the Bridgehampton Inn offers more choices and smaller portions are fun and satisfying and give our customers better options on how to spend in our restaurant!Sybille van Kempen, Bridgehampton Inn, Bridgehampton

There are more and more sustainable agriculture practices taking hold with pasture raised animals, and farm-to-table products are ever on the rise. We’ve seen more restaurants focusing on healthy eating with menus shifting in the direction of plant-based and organic ingredients as food trends like veganism and gluten-free diets increase and people take an increasing interest in the foods they eat. In the wine industry, we’ve seen an increase in use of alternative forms of packaging and closures such as screw caps and cans. This is a very exciting change in the industry that we expect to continue to increase over the next few years as the market continues to embraced the new, approachable packaging styles. We’re very excited about the release of our 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, which we believe is the best expression of this varietal we’ve made so far! However, our biggest news this season is the May opening of the Suhru Wines Tasting House, located on the Main Road in Cutchogue. We’re excited to connect with our customers and give them a chance to enjoy our wines in a warm, inviting environment. If we had to guess, we expect that Pinot Noir will be the first varietal to bud break in 2018, and our guess would be that it will happen around April 26.—Shelby Hearn, Suhru Wines, Mattituck

It’s exciting having our friends from EMP come back to East Hampton. Not only is it a great place just down the road from us for food, drinks and fun, it’s a fabulous opportunity for us to strengthen our ties with EMP and discover new ways our finishing salt is being used. I’m most looking forward to Ping Pong while sipping summery, craft cocktails and having a black-truffle Humm Dog! Fingers crossed that Leo the Gnome, Chef Daniel’s deconstructed bouillabaisse, and Milk and Honey soft serve will be around again.Steven Judelson, Amagansett Sea Salt, Amagansett

I don’t drink beer, but I’ve noticed the beer and hard cider places are mad crowded. More craft beer places are opening on the North Fork, one in Mattituck. I’m waiting for the fresh, local spinach and asparagus!Stephanie Villani, author of the popular cookbook The Fisherman’s Wife, Mattituck

I predict a continuation of the farm-to-table movement. The focus should be on using local produce and bounty from the sea. The excitement is waiting all winter for the fishing season to start. For example, tonight’s dinner consisted of fresh caught flounder, potato salad made from local potatoes, coleslaw and beets which were grown locally.—Al Daniels, local fisheries expert, Sag Harbor

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