Restaurant Review: Southampton’s Maison Vivienne

Maison Vivienne, Photo: Courtesy Maison Vivienne
Maison Vivienne, Photo: Courtesy Maison Vivienne

The Hamptons does not want to be rushed. It calls for lingering afternoons and evenings, sipping cocktails and rosé without being hurried away to some appointment. Such idle hours require an oasis, a place like the one somebody told you about once that they found in Provence…   

Opened this past spring, Maison Vivienne brings a little South of France to Southampton, just a few steps from the bustle of Main Street. There’s a good chance you remember this spot as one of its past incarnations—Kozu, the Greek restaurant Nammos and, once upon a time, Nello Summertimes—but new life has been breathed into the 17th century Dutch Colonial courtesy of Svitlana and Tessa Flom and Allan Basaran, along with the design savvy of Paris K studio.

The Vivienne, Courtesy Maison Vivienne
The Vivienne, Photo: Courtesy Maison Vivienne

The beachy chic of the Hamptons is there amid the Provençal touches, the white, soaring high-ceilinged dining room somehow homey and elegant at once (maybe it’s the two fireplaces or the beams echoing back to their 1600s origins). If the weather is accommodating, the charming outdoor terrace oozing tranquility is the perfect place for those aforementioned libations and, since you’re taking the time to indulge a bit, dinner.

One recent night, a table started with the Pissaladière and the Caviar and Crab Cocktail, the former a flavorful not-quite-a-pizza pastry with caramelized Vidalia onion, anchovies, olives, chives, thyme and chili oil, the latter a pairing so delightfully surprising that it sparked a heated conversation as to what other shellfish caviar has been missing all its life. The yellowfin tuna tartare that followed was velvety and saline, and the Salade Verte du Jardin crisp and vibrant with local greens.

The rack of lamb with fried aubergine and ratatouille was rich and rare, while lamb offered another way—as a burger—was seasoned to perfection and its aroma so inviting it had to be divvied up four ways to share around the table. One good turn deserving another, the guest enjoying the honey lavender glazed Long Island Duck Breast with marinated, roasted figs passed a taste to a fellow diner, and it was tough to tell who was the first to utter, “the duck was more succulent than even I had hoped.”

Inside Maison Vivienne, Photo: Courtesy Maison Vivienne
Inside Maison Vivienne, Photo: Courtesy Maison Vivienne

As expected, the bouillabaisse is presented with some cinematic flair, the broth poured over the seafood with some ceremony, but unexpected is the fact that this is not your traditional seafood stew. This version is a light, summery affair celebrating its origins in Marseille while honoring its current Hamptons environs.

On a late summer night, even those evenings heading into fall and the quieter times here when many would argue the Hamptons is at its most embraceable, Maison Vivienne is the kind of scene you don’t want to leave. And you don’t have to. In addition to the restaurant, Maison Vivienne is a boutique hotel sporting nine rooms, two of them suites, where you can pamper yourself in Frette linens, towels and bathrobes, and Natura Bissé luxury bath and body products.

Before you do, though, maybe linger over one more cocktail, order up just one more glass of wine. You’re in no rush.

Maison Vivienne is located at 136 Main Street in Southampton.
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