Fresh dining in the Hamptons
Topping Rose House in the Hamptons offers a delicious excuse for Manhattanites to escape the city for the weekend. The fresh seasonal American cuisine should lure travelers from all over to visit the tony enclave for an epicurean trip.
Set on the first floor of a stately white 1842 Greek-revival mansion, Topping Rose House Restaurant is the heart of the 22-room hotel. Two dining rooms have wide-planked wooden floors, milk glass and iron drum pendant lamps and black wood Windsor seats and tan leather chairs surrounding white-cloth-covered tables. (And when the weather’s nice, an adjacent patio provides a view of the well-manicured grounds.) Just as in the hotel, contemporary art plays an important role in the fresh, simple décor. The white walls feature works like Clifford Ross’ Hurricane LII, a black-and-white photo of crashing waves during a hurricane. In the smaller dining room, a corner bar stands out with liquor-lined shelves covered in a shiny aquamarine lacquer. The waitstaff uniform — black slacks and a gingham shirt in maroon, forest green or navy — adds a country-casual vibe.
Before coming to the Bridgehampton restaurant, Texas native Kyle Koenig worked at Colicchio & Sons and The Plaza Hotel in New York City. During an externship at Bouchon in Napa, the Culinary Institute of America grad learned that food doesn’t have to be over the top to be fine dining. In that vein, he focuses on fundamental technique, good flavors and the freshest possible ingredients to create his cuisine. Essentially, he says that translates to “doing your best so that customers feel that love in the food.”
One way you’ll feel that love is through the vegetables, many of which are plucked from the onsite farm behind the hotel parking lot. The acre farm grows beets, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, kale, spinach, corn, watermelon and eggplant, along with herbs such as basil, chamomile, cilantro, dill, fennel, rosemary and more to use in dishes like eggplant agnolotti with tomatoes, sourdough and basil.
The Long Island restaurant updates its menu often to make the use of the season’s bounty. But you will find plenty of seafood offerings, from breakfast (like the Bridgehampton Town Fry with scrambled eggs, fried oysters and chili dust) to dinner (pot-au-feu with tilefish, lobster, baby beets, fennel and parsley). Koenig likes to play with hot-and-cold pairings, so expect to see items like fried oysters served with carpaccio or raw tuna.
Several menu staples are the heirloom kale salad with currants, pecorino cheese and toasted pine nuts, and the popular smoked pasta. Koenig changes up the smoked pasta, but previous versions include a smoked spaghetti with morels and a soft egg, and a smoked pappardelle with a coddled egg.
Even if you have a hearty dinner — like the Berkshire pork loin and braised belly with salsify, cipollini onions, rutabaga and mustard seeds — save room for dessert. Many diners go for pastry chef Cassandra Shupp’s brioche doughnuts. Shupp regularly gives them a makeover — there’s been everything from chocolate doughnuts with peanut butter mousse and banana anglaise to ones with coconut-lemongrass sauce and lemon-coconut sugar. Another tempting option is the constantly changing sundae. Sitting on a bed of graham cracker crumbs, two scoops of housemade sweet corn ice cream come topped with blueberry compote and a generous dollop of addictive vanilla bean whipped cream.
The Other Meals
Another way to snap up those brioche doughnuts is at breakfast and weekend brunch, when they come with a brown butter maple glaze. Breakfast (which is complimentary with a stay at the hotel) and brunch also include additional choices like eggs Benedict on a housemade potato roll with Canadian bacon and spinach, and a seasonal omelet (like one stuffed with roasted zucchini, ricotta salata and basil).
At lunch, the large lobster roll with Old Bay chips and pickled red onion is a favorite, though the local swordfish with green cardamom is a savory, tender treat. Tip: To best experience the menu, order the three-course lunch.
The Hamptons restaurant sprinkles its wine list with some local selections, including bottles from Wölffer Estate Vineyard, which sits only 1.5 miles away, and Sparkling Pointe in the North Fork. Another option is Topping Rose House’s own dry rosé. However, you may not be able to pass up interesting food-inspired cocktails like the Beeta-Rita (Avión Silver tequila, beet juice and jalapeño-agave nectar) or The Corwith (organic Meyer lemon, lemon juice, lemon-thyme syrup and Poema cava).