What’s so wonderful about the winter edition of Long Island Restaurant Week in the Hamptons? Allow us to count the reasons (and must-try courses!).
First, there’s the food. Not only are many of these establishments, most notably here in the Hamptons, in beautifully decorated spaces and historic buildings, they’re helmed by talented chefs celebrating the year-round bounty of our local waters and farmland.
Second, you know all those people clogging up Montauk Highway in the summer? They’re not here. And they’re not gobbling up all the reservations and precious table space in the off-season, either. “It’s the perfect excuse to get out in the quiet time of the year and visit that restaurant you have always been wanting to try,” says Nicole Castillo of Long Island Restaurant and Hospitality Group.
If you’re really a true South Fork devotee, you know that winter here has a still and stark beauty all its own, full of slumbering farmstands and wind-swept empty beaches, making heartier Hamptons-hulled fare, joyfully eaten by the glow of tea lights and a roaring fireside on a winter’s night, a pretty special, if entirely convivial, experience.
Participating restaurants in the tri-annual event—which runs all across Nassau and Suffolk counties from Sunday, January 29 through Sunday, February 5—offer a nightly three-course prix fixe in three price-points, depending on the restaurant ($27, $37 or $44, gratuity not included; also, note that certain restaurants exclude Saturday from the deal, or may only offer it until 7 p.m.).
Now comes the hard part: Deciding what to order from each course.
With some subtle nudging, these reputable chefs and owners from seven participating Hamptons spots gave us the inside scoop on a few must-try dishes from their upcoming restaurant week prix-fixe menu.
Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House, 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton, 631-808-2000
1st-course choice: Long Island Fluke Sashimi
“You can’t get any fresher than local Montauk fluke,” says chef de cuisine Michael Houser, “accompanied with chili lime sauce, toasted pistachios and micro mint, this dish has just the right amount of acid and heat.”
For their $44 prix fixe, try to get a seat in the bar room near the cozy fireplace and admire the architectural details of this 1842 Greek Revival former mansion, now a 22-room inn.
Lulu Kitchen & Bar, 126 Main Street, Sag Harbor, 631-725-0900
2nd-course choice: Mussels a La Plancha
Dinner and a show? If you grab a coveted, curved banquette seat at Lulu, you get to watch executive chef Philippe Corbet and his team prepare your meal over a roaring wood-fired grill in this stylish neighborhood spot. “It’s nice to cook on in the winter,” Corbet muses about the intense heat this plancha produces, and since everything tastes better grilled over fire, the mussels with lemon parsley butter, sea salt, and crushed pepper are no exception.
Elaia Estiatorio, 95 School Street, Bridgehampton, 631-613-6469
2nd-course choice: Pastichio
Lasagna may be considered a traditional Italian dish, but according to Elaia Estiatorio owner Sofia Crokos, her Greek restaurants’ version known as pastichio is “much better,” and well worth the $44 price tag in this three-course option. Topped with creamy béchamel, this layered wonder begins with pasta on the bottom and a flavorful lamb and beef filling.
“Adding just a touch of nutmeg to the slow-cooked ragù makes it hearty and perfect for winter days” adds Crokos. The warm glow from the beautifully decorated, candlelit credenza (Crokos is well-known for designing and creating luxury events) helps set the mood.
Bamboo, 76C Jobs Lane, Southampton, 631-488-4240
2nd-course choice: Omakase
The sushi chefs at Southampton’s trendy Bamboo restaurant select (omakase means “to entrust” in Japanese) eight pieces of the freshest and most unique fish for what owner Lila Beudert-Gluckman describes as the “definite off-the-menu experience.”
Also known for their specialty, ornate cocktails, Lila suggests pairing this with a Jade Cooler, made with refreshing cucumber juice, vodka, a touch of simple syrup and ginger (it’s not included in the prix fixe but worth the splurge!).
Fauna, 6 Parlato Drive, Westhampton Beach, 631-288-3500
1st-course choice: Berkshire Pork Belly
The culinary team at Fauna takes pride in their sourcing, choosing pork of the Berkshire English heritage breed for this delectable, wintery dish in their $44 prix fixe Restaurant Week offering. “The marbling is ideal for rendering and the bold flavors of savory caramel matched with crispy salted pork are rich and satisfying,” says executive chef Aaron Mitchell-Patrick.
Accompanied by mustardy fennel and sprout slaw, Fauna suggests pairing it with an IPA such as Catch Wave by Brooklyn’s Grimm Artisanal Ales. While there, check out the whimsical Ostrich Room in this lovingly restored restaurant, formerly the famed Starr Boggs.
Calissa, 1020 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, 631-500-9292
2nd-course choice: Swordfish Souvlaki Skewers
“Swordfish is a heartier fish, perfect for cooler winter evenings,” says Calissa’s executive chef Bob Abrams, of his fave in their $44 dinner option. Common in the waters surrounding the Saronic Islands, swordfish is a staple in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine and is often served with tzatziki, herb salad and grilled pita.
“Most fish are too flakey to be grilled souvlaki-style,” notes Abrams, “swordfish is a perfect match for a hot grill.”
Those in need of a break from the winter doldrums can also enjoy Calissa’s chic, Mykonos-inspired interiors, and extensive Greek wine list. (Try Sant’or, an amphora-aged orange wine from Achaia.)
Page at 63 Main, Sag Harbor 631-725-1810
2nd-course choice: Garganelli Pasta Bolognese
“Our bolognese has been a menu staple for years,” says chef de cuisine Cleon Clarke of neighborhood favorite Page at 63 Main of this stand-out option on their $44 dinner prix fixe. “The combination of slow-cooked beef, veal, lamb and San Marzano tomatoes is an elevated execution of a familiar and comforting dish.”
Situated in a building dating back to the 1890s, the brick-walled interiors, paned windows and nod to Sag Harbor’s history (the restaurant is named after whaling captain George Page) lend itself to a cozy meal. Make it even cozier by pairing the pasta dish with a glass of Zingari Toscana.