Stepping onto the grounds of Topping Rose House on a balmy summer evening will make you feel transported back in time to some enchanted garden. Twinkling lights adorning the trees evoke a magical feeling and your senses perk up, noticing the breeze ruffle through the leaves, the tantalizing aromas coming from the exclusive Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House wafting around your nose. This is a special place, a historical gem that has been restored to glory where the rest of the world seems to fall away, and a unique and special culinary experience begins.
There was an air of elegance present in the décor inside, bold lime accenting the warm, earthy tones of the lights and décor. The staff was instantly attentive, seating preferences and we began our meal with a glass of refreshingly bubbly champagne. You are then treated to a simple amuse-bouche straight from Topping Rose House’s garden, where they grow as much of their own ingredients as possible, from strawberries to the glistening baby radishes set before us, paired with a house made olive butter. The spicy radish paired with the salty, creamy butter was a delightful surprise of flavors and textures.
Executive Chef Drew Hiatt honors the notion of farm-to-table cuisine and what he can’t grow in their beloved one-acre garden is sourced from the finest ingredients from the other local farmers and fishermen. The attention to freshness and quality is evident in every dish that Chef Drew presents, all a feast for the eyes with vibrant colors, textures and the juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional American cuisine. The green chickpea hummus, served with crudité straight from the garden, whets the appetite and invigorates your mind with the bright colors of the carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, all wanting to be slathered with the vivacious hummus, a mix of earthiness and brightness. This appetizer was the personification of simple, real, farm-to-table eating.
The warm asparagus salad with chanterelle vinaigrette was beautifully plated, with the gleaming, tender asparagus dressed with a vinaigrette with the tiniest chanterelle mushrooms. Crunchy hazelnuts cut through some of the vinegar, and the leafy greens on the plate was Mache lettuce, a green that was delicate in flavor and velvety to the tongue, creating another exciting mix of textures and flavors on my palate.
Beet and strawberry salad was up next, with strawberries from the Topping Rose House garden and beets from Amagansett’s Balsam Farms. The strawberries tasted like sweet summertime and the beets were tender, vibrant and earthy, paired perfectly with sherry vinaigrette and shallots. Dusted with crushed pistachio and strewn with pickled red onion, this classic summertime pairing was balanced, bright and scrumptious—a dish not to be missed when you visit.
We sampled Chef Drew’s caviar creation of the day—a chilled, herbaceous panna cotta, topped with decadent Royale caviar nestled in a pink pool of tomato coulis. The dish was rich and refreshing at the same time, with the textures and flavors intriguing my senses. An indulgence, to be sure, but one worth savoring.
Local diver scallops, seared to perfection and plated on a layer of sweet and spicy pepper sauce the color of a vibrant sunrise, were topped with gleaming green sugar snap peas and mint. The scallops were perfectly tender on the inside with that desirable crunch from a good pan-sear on the outside. The pepper sauce danced a spicy tune on my tongue while the peas and mint cooled it down. This wonderful pairing was as delicious as it was beautiful.
Easily one of my favorite dishes from the night was the sweet corn agnolotti (a small, rectangular stuffed pasta). The filling of sweet roasted corn was pureed just enough and paired with their own cherry tomatoes (the tiniest ones I’ve ever seen—and they were all peeled!) and a delectable basil fondue. Everything about this dish evoked summer—from the fresh, local corn inside the pasta, to the herby and creamy fondue and those perfect little tomatoes that popped satisfyingly in my mouth, a touch of tartness to round out the savory pasta. It was another dish that had the perfect balance of flavors and textures, executed flawlessly and plated like a work of art.
Striped bass from the shores of Montauk was sautéed until the skin is crisp then carefully placed on a bed of charred summer squash, accompanied by a tart apricot-lime emulsion with tiny edible flowers gracing the plate. The fish was so fresh you could taste the ocean and dipped in the emulsion, it was again a balancing act of flavors that worked together to create a masterful experience on your taste buds.
Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House serves the best Niman Ranch tenderloin this foodie has ever tasted. The quality of the beef made for the most tender bites, cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and served with a tangy Miso-mustard sauce and sweet glazed carrots from the garden.
Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House boasts a tantalizing dessert menu, and we couldn’t resist sampling it. The brown butter cake with hints of vanilla is served with fresh strawberries and rhubarbs, alongside a decadent mousse and creamy frozen yogurt. They also make a perfect cappuccino to end your meal and sip it slowly as you reflect on the culinary adventure you just experienced. It’s like no other, and one that won’t be forgotten. Chef Drew and his team pay such close attention to every detail in every dish, each one more vibrant, more delicious than the next. The menu at Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House is seasonal, and so it’s constantly changing, using the best the local bounty of the East End has to offer.
The Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House restaurant is open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. For hours and more information, please visit them on the web at toppingrosehouse.com.