Wine & Dine: Topping Rose


Dawn Watson photos.

I had the honor of dining at Jean-Georges’s Topping Rose in Bridgehampton last night. I went for fun with a friend and not for a professional review but I think it’s always good to share some impressions.

Not having been there since the kitchen was under the direction of Tom Colicchio, I’ve been extremely curious about the restaurant. As I know that both chefs favor a high end vegetable-forward, farm-to-table experience, my expectations were just as high with this newish iteration as they were for the Top Chef guru’s fare. I was not disappointed.  The food was delicious, though definitely on the expensive side.


I started with a Cucumber Mint Martini, though made with vodka and not gin ($18). It was very, very yummy and refreshing, but best imbibed only once. There was also a delicious sip of the Sancerre, Jean Vincent 2013, Loire, France ($15) to follow.

We didn’t do starters but I enjoyed the Bay Scallop special appetizer, which was served atop pureed cauliflower ($21 I think). Mmm mmm good. Additionally, I tried the Roasted Romanesco, Brussel Sprouts, Balsamic and Herbs side ($9). Tasty. My friend had the Bucatini and Short Rib special (???), which I recall from past visits under the former management has always been perfectly prepared. She agreed.

We shouldn’t have ordered dessert but it’s hard to say no when you’re having a luxury culinary experience. I tried a cappuccino ($8) and the Almond Cake, Poached Quince, Pear Sorbet ($13), which was quite good and the pear sorbet was outstanding! I’m definitely making that sorbet at home. She tasted the Yuzu Saint-Honoré, Coconut Cremeux, Kaffir Chantilly, Yuzu Curd ($13) which was okay if a  bit understated for my taste, particularly as it sounded so intriguing. We also sipped an incredible Moscato d’Asti, G.D. Vajra 2015, Piedmont, Italy ($14) or was it the Chardonnay Blend Diosa, Wolffer Estate 2012, Hamptons, NY ($17)? Hmmm. Whatever it was, it was a great note to end on.

Recommended, but not for the faint of wallet.



Hamptons Restaurant Week & Other Tasty Food News


Bostwick’s is opening in two days! Woohoo!!!

Hamptons Restaurant Week is upon us again. Yippee!
This year’s promotion runs through Sunday, April 10. All participants will offer a special three-course prix fixe menu, with three options per course, for $27.95. Participants include: Nick & Toni’s, Fresno and 1770 House in East Hampton; Baron’s Cove, Page at 63 Main, Bell & Anchor and Wolffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor; Red Bar and Shippy’s in Southampton; 1 North Steakhouse, Rumba Cowfish and Sundays on the Bay in Hampton Bays; Dockers and Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue; and The Patio in Westhampton Beach. Ooh, and there’s even more on the North Fork. Click here for all participating eateries. Now, where shall we make rezzies?

Can’t get enough of a great thing? Have no fear. Long Island Restaurant Week will be held from April 17 through April 24. Enjoy!

More good news. According to the North Forker, Claudio’s will be back! The Greenport institution, which has been reportedly purchased, will open for the season on Tuesday, April 1. Here’s more info from past posts.

Oooh, and Bostwick’s Chowder House opens for the 2016 season on Thursday, April 7. Best fish tacos ever.

Come next Tuesday, April 12, Almond in Bridgehampton will throw a party celebrating 15 years in the Hamptons. The milestone will be marked with a cocktail party from 7 to 9 p.m. Passed hors d’oeuvres, highlighting favorite items from the last 15 years, and cocktails will be served featuring donations from Amber Waves Farm, Southern Wine & Spirits, Channing Daughters Winery and Paumanok Winery. Tickets are only $40 in advance or $50 at the door. All proceeds will benefit local photographer Eric Striffler who recently lost his home to a fire.

The Golden Pear has two new reasons to celebrate. The East End restaurant chain has been named as a charter member of the Fred Bollaci Enterprises and Global Healthy Gourmet international family of healthy gourmet destinations. I’m not really sure exactly what that means but it’s happy news, they say. Additionally, all four locations–Southampton, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor and East Hampton–will now offer a Healthy Kids Breakfast & Lunch Menu. Good.

Eats at Topping Rose will officially pass. The former Tom Colicchio-run restaurant will change hands to Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Sad about one and can’t wait to try out the other!

Sadly, we’ve lost a few local boîtes, including  Winston’s in East Hampton, Fresh Hamptons in Bridge and Harlow and Doppio in Sag Harbor. It’s always a bummer to hear about when something that people work so hard for fails. Gossip is that Michael Gluckman and Shane Dyckman will be opening up a joint called The Service Station in the old Winston’s/Nichol’s spot and Ron Perelman will create an East End outpost of Le Bilboquet from the city in the former Harlow/B.Smith’s waterside space. No word on the Fresh or Doppio spots yet.

Lastly, here’s some news from the East Hampton Supervisor’s Office:

Four staff members from Ruschmeyer’s restaurant in Montauk pled guilty on March 28, 2016 to charges stemming from a staff beach party this past summer that left litter strewn about Navy Beach in Montauk. As part of the plea arrangement, each defendant was fined $1,500 dollars by the Honorable Steven Tekulsky in East Hampton Justice Court.

“This was an egregious transgression by the staff of a local business,” said Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell. “These significant fines, totaling $6,000, are a testament to the fact that the Town will not condone such reckless disregard for our natural resources.”

Other defendants had previously pled guilty and paid smaller fines on camping and littering charges, but the four who pled guilty on March 28—Tyler Aposhian, Fiona Bourke, Johnathan Crowley, and Dylen Power—were the ringleaders responsible for the party.

“To their credit, the management of Ruschmeyer’s addressed the situation as soon as they became aware of the actions of their staff, but honestly, it was too little, too late. There is no excuse for the beach to ever be placed in that condition,” Supervisor Cantwell said.


Hamptons ‘Seafood Safari’ with Kerry Heffernan

Cheers to some exciting news for foodies and locavores. Chef Kerry Heffernan, who lives in Sag Harbor and was this Hamptons Party Girl’s favorite ‘Top Chef Masters’ finalist, is going to be filming a Hamptons-based cooking show called “Seafood Safari” this spring and summer.
The concept is to showcase the 30 species of fish and shellfish that live in our waters, and to pair the freshly caught seafood with local organic ingredients. Kerry and his friend, Captain Ralph Towlen, will catch, cook and eat their bounty from the East End’s waters.
Area fishermen and other local characters will be included in the nine-episode web- and television series. Filming locations will be in Hamptons restaurants (I’m guessing that ‘Top Chef’ host Tom Colicchio’s Topping Rose in Bridgehampton will most likely make the cut, especially as he and Kerry worked together many moons ago at Mondrian and are currently fishing buddies out here), fundraisers and events, homes, and even a private yacht moored in Sag Harbor.
This show sounds like it will be a very tasty treat indeed.

Small Bite: Food News

Small Bite: Food News

Rumor has it that Joe Isidori, former chef of the now-closed Southfork Kitchen in Bridgehampton, has headed back to Manhattan full time to work with Matt Levine on Chalk Point Kitchen in SoHo. The restaurant is slated to open next month.
Isidori had been on the fast track to culinary stardom before taking his place at the ill-fated Hamptons eatery. He had previously held various positions in Donald Trump’s organization before helming Bruce Buschel’s overpriced and pretentious (sorry but it’s true in my humble opinion) sustainable seafood and locavore-inspired boite, which closed in 2013.
I’m quite interested to see what this hot chef cooks up at his new place. I hope he gets the solid that he deserves, as unfortunately, Southfork was doomed from the start as Bruce let his (some say way-off-the-mark) fiery opinions fly about everything from “100 things restaurant staffers should never do” to Southfork’s ultimate demise on his blog, which incensed both patrons and fellow restaurateurs alike. And it didn’t help that the front-of-the restaurant garden soaked up all the exhaust from a neighboring driveway–which made this Hamptons Party Girl and a dining companion sick on the night we spent close to $300 on dinner for three–even though the place was BYO. I love slow food and supporting local farmers and really wanted to like Southfork Kitchen but it literally left a bad taste in my mouth.
The good news (because that’s the kind of news we like to share the most!) is that the building has been occupied by Todd Jacobs’ Fresh, which serves a whole lot of delicious healthy and sustainable food at reasonable prices, for nearly a year now. This cozy spot also has a great bar and live music by a few of our friends, including Jim Turner, a few nights a week. Try the green beans and the vegetarian curry–both are excellent and crave-worthy.
And for those who want the high-end experience, but with a steep price that’s TOTALLY worth it, meander down the street to Topping Rose. It’s my go-to place for special occasions, and every other kind of occasion when I can afford it. In my opinion, Tom Colicchio is a kitchen god.
*Photo by me, at a past Harvest event. Not meant to represent any of the chefs or restaurants mentioned here–just a delicious bite of food.

Tom Colicchio Wished Me A Happy Birthday Last Night-Woohoo!

Tom  Colicchio Wished Me A Happy Birthday Last Night

Yesterday was my birthday, always a VERY big day for this Hamptons Party Girl, and this year was one of the absolute bests.
After a week’s celebration, including dinner at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor with friends, lunch at Pierre’s in Bridgehampton with another friend and a day and night in the city with yet another wonderful friend, eating at fancy shmancy La Grenouille (the original French hotspot that paved the way for places like Le Bernadin) and taking in “The Book of Mormon” on Friday, I spent my second actual birthday in a row at Tom Colicchio’s Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton.
This place is phenomenal and it’s my go-to super-special-occasion restaurant out here in the Hamptons. And if any of my chef friends are reading this, I also love your places and you know it. Nick & Toni’s is next on my list–after I work out enough to fit back into my pants. : )
Anyway, last night we decided to dine European style, very late in the evening. Since it was Saturday night at 9:30 and the place was packed, we had to wait a few minutes for our table to be ready. But that was no big deal at all when the man himself came strolling through the door in his chef’s whites.
After artists and writers, chefs are my biggest crushes and Tom is WAY up there. I love his food and his approach to cooking. I’ve photographed him a bunch of times at foodie events–the photo here is of one I took of him and his wife, Laurie Silverbush, at this past summer’s Chef’s Dinner at Hayground–and he’s always been really great.
Anyway, I immediately held out my hand to shake his and told him it was my birthday (something I do approximately 10,000 times during what I call “Dawnapalooza,” which is the week of my special day; down from the month of my special day when I was younger and less mature and dignified. Ha!). Tom gave me a hearty shake and wished me a “happy 20th birthday.” Now I love him even more for that. : ) Cheers!
BTW–the food was outstanding, as it always is.

Hamptons Real Estate Agents Have Something To Party About

Hamptons Real Estate Agents Have Something To Party About

The Hamptons are back baby! Well, it’s not like they were ever really gone, but the stalwart real estate market has recently hit highs not seen since 2005.
Here in the Hamptons, when it comes to real estate, the common yardstick of the health of the economy is “before the crash” in 2008 or “pre-cash prices,” which were healthy throughout 2007. It’s not like our economy bottomed out in the way of say, Detroit, but in the last few years here there has been a marked difference in ostentatious spending, housing costs and the number of people out here in season.
Not so much this summer, which saw more citiots (shortened from “city idiots”–not my word but one that is bandied about frequently by lots and lots of frustrated year-rounders) than I have seen since moving out here about seven years ago. The benefit scene was bustling, real estate agents–pretty much the richest group of people who live out here full time–were spending like there was no tomorrow at Tom Colicchio’s Topping Rose House and Bobby Van’s in Bridgehampton, and it was impossible to find a parking space on Main Street in Sag Harbor (my Hamptons hometown), which caused me to predict even before Memorial Day that we were on a serious financial upswing. So far it seems to be holding true, barring some new financial industry meltdown.
According to the early numbers, the third-quarter results here in 2013 are bigger (both in dollar amount and in number of transactions) than they have been in eight years. Preliminarily speaking (not all the numbers are actually in yet), the average cost of a home sold here on the East End during the last three months was just under $1.5 million. Yep, you read that right.
More crazy numbers to wrap your head around: The highest-priced home on the market right now is a $75 million 7,500-square-foot manse in East Hampton. The second highest-priced is Richard Gere’s home on just over 6 acres in Sag Harbor. Handsome, rich and friends with the Dalai Lama. This guy should write motivational books.
Something else even wilder to think about: It’s not unusual to read about someone buying a house on the ocean here for upwards of $10 million, only to tear it down and rebuild. And only in the Hamptons is it possible for real estate agents to actually refer to the “bottom of the market” as under half a million with straight faces. Places that are literally shacks sell for $350,000. Yikes.
It’s time for this Hamptons Party Girl to finish that book. Let’s hope it’s a bestseller.
Photo by me, taken in Montauk.

Alec and Hilaria Baldwin at Great Chefs

Alec and Hilaria Baldwin at Great Chefs

Hilaria Baldwin was glowing and her husband, Alec, was beaming at the Great Chefs benefit at Hayground School in Bridgehampton on Sunday night. I ran into them at the end of cocktail time at the annual tasting event, which raises money for the school’s Jeff Salaway Scholarship Fund and Jeff’s Kitchen, and chatted with Hilaria while Alec asked questions of the Xanté reps.
“You might be the most beautiful pregnant woman ever,” I said, adding that it looked like she was about to pop.
“I’ve got about three weeks left,” she said. “Wouldn’t you love it if my water broke right now.”
“I’m no paparazzi, I’d never do that,” I replied, laughing. “But I do want to get you two together in a shot now.”
He joked around a bit with the Xanté bottle but I wanted a nice shot, and he complied. I’m glad he did. This, by the way, might be my most favorite Alec photo. I love to see when he’s in good spirits, and he frequently has been since meeting his lovely wife.
Anyway …
We chatted a bit more and I told Alec that Barry Sonnenfeld was at the event.
His eyes lit up. “Oh my God! Where?” he said, reminding me of that “30 Rock” episode where he was so happy after getting a Christmas gift as a child that he threw up.
I pointed the filmmaker out and then left the happy couple to mingle and enjoy a few tasty treats before the chefs packed it in for the night.
Also at the event, food legends Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Jason Weiner and my pretend husband, Steve Haweeli.