Five Restaurants That Keep Their Kitchens Running Year-Round
As summer winds down, the food circuit in the Hamptons might slow in some spots, but it’s buzzing as ever in others if you know where to look. Or, to save you the effort, we’ve rounded up our preferred East End restaurants open all year long.
The Maidstone (207 Main St., East Hampton)Looks can be deceiving. The Maidstone Hotel’s white clapboard exterior and warm light glowing from behind its grid windows may suggest that this 19th-century construction is a cozy country inn, but such is not the case. Refurbished by a Swedish hotelier in 2008, the Maidstone is now a beacon of Scandinavian fine taste, from its design mixing contemporary lines with pops of color and art to its un-fussed but impeccable food, spurred by local seafood and fresh garden produce – think seared scallops with fresh corn or chicken cooked to a golden crisp with fennel and kale pesto. Like any reputable hotel, The Maidstone also boasts a fashionable lobby bar, with a daily happy hour menu and craft cocktails served until late for when you’re not quite ready to go home after dessert.
Highway Restaurant & Bar (290 Montauk Hwy., East Hampton)Sharing the same restaurant portfolio with Manhattan heavy-hitters like the NoMad Restaurant and Eleven Madison Park, Highway Restaurant & Bar may market itself as your come-on-in neighborhood kitchen, but from its décor to its service to its outstanding food, it’s a step above – if not two or three. Avocado toast with lobster, house made pastas, and ginger soy kale salads are a few of the inventive comfort foods here that change regularly with available ingredients. Whitewashed walls hung with black-and-white photos and striped pillowed banquets on make this look like a Coastal Living photo shoot – just the type of place to curl up with a bottle of wine and watch the bright light of summer mellow into fall.
Nick & Toni’s (136 N. Main St., East Hampton)Where would all the celebrities eat if Nick & Toni’s closed? This institution has been dishing up Tuscan fare to the American royalty for 30 years now, firing the freshest meats and fishes in its wood-burning oven, pouring the most discerning vintages from its extensive wine list, hanging the most unusual outsider art on its walls to make sure there’s a certain degree of levity accompanying that Dungeness crab bucatinni. Lamb, pork chops, and free range chicken cooked in simple but perfectly-executed up-dos embody the Italian philosophy that less is more when ingredients are good enough to speak for themselves. Unlike the summer months when getting a table here can be a trial in patience, autumn brings better odds, though a happy alternative is to come for brunch: buttermilk-fried chicken with black-pepper waffles, and smoked salmon scrambled eggs with shaved asparagus and baby watercress add discerning twists to the classics, best washed down with fine champagne.
Pierre’s (2468 Main St., Bridgehampton)Leave it to the French to turn up the after-dark charm. For a flirty date night or adults-only evening out, Pierre’s is undoubtedly the place to go. From dusk until nearly midnight, the buzzing bar stays packed with handsome patrons using Aperol Spritzes and French 75s to wash down herbed goat cheese with lavender honey or a few of the freshest oysters; it’s certainly a scene. But for a bit more romance, reserve a table in the white tablecloth dining room. You won’t find any fusion food on the menu (written first and foremost in French), but rather all the typical offerings of a South of France bistro – a seafood pot au feu, whole Branzino with Provencale herbs, poached or grilled lobster, and prix-fixe meals that include a glass of wine. A bakery and café in front – and another in Sag Harbor – serves pastries, sandwiches and salads all day long, but Pierre’s glitters most at night.
The Halyard (58775 Route 38, Greenport)Come for the unobstructed views of the Long Island Sound, stay for the lobster sliders, the “Kitchen Sink Shellfish Pasta” loaded with heaps of the freshest seafood, the filet mignon with sweet fig… need we go on? Overseen by James Beard Award–winning chef Galen Zamarra, The Halyard opened last year as the much-anticipated restaurant of the much- anticipated renovated Sound View Inn, remade by Brooklyn’s Studio Tack to be one of the most fashionable properties in the North Fork. The menu is what one might call “beach bistro” – oysters fresh or fried, seafood soups, a double-patty burger – but done up to such a level that reviewers are hailing Halyards as the latest North Fork restaurant to to join the ranks of gourmet brethren like Noah’s and North Fork Table. This part of the East End is more and more establishing its culinary scene as high- quality, low-pretense, and The Halyard may well be leading the brigade.