Some of the Big Apple’s top chefs are packing their knives and toques to open new restaurants in the Hamptons as the summer season unofficially kicks off this Memorial Day Weekend.
Star chef Laurent Tourondel – who created the BLT Steak chain, although he is no longer involved in it, along with L’Amico, Skirt Steak and the Vine in Manhattan – will try his deft hand with a Mexican concept, eLTacobar, in Sag Harbor.
The restaurant, which will take over the space where his popular LT Burger once stood, has a menu that includes a local corn and lobster taco and a Mongolian pork taco.
“After 13 years as LT Burger, it was time to start something new,” Tourondel tells Side Dish. “I love Mexican and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Sag Harbor will also soon have an outpost of the popular French wine bar Vin Sur Vingt, led by Sebastien Auvet, who has six locations in Manhattan, including on the Upper West Side and Nomad.
The new bistro opens in mid-June, at 29 Main St., and will have a rotating list of 200 wines — and a total of 70 seats inside and out. It will be open for lunch and dinner, with a menu inspired by Auvet’s grandmother and a French-inspired craft cocktail menu. Night owls can enjoy 25% off any bottle after 10 pm until closing.
“We have been a part of the Sag Harbor community for a few years now with our other brand, Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee, so it felt like the right place to be. People here are wonderful! The community is close and it’s an all-year town,” Auvet tells Side Dish.
Jack’s Coffee and Vin Sur Vingt Wine Bars merged to form a new parent company, TenEleven Hospitality last year. It’s led by VSV founders and operators Auvet, Rakesh Chandiramani, and Dilip Hari.
Michelin award-winning chef Melissa O’Donnell also plans a mid-June opening for Sag Harbor Kitchen in partnership with Kiitch, an online culinary platform. The sea-to-table eatery at 26 Bay Street in the American Legion building plans to be open 10 months a year, closed January and February.
O’Donnell, known for Stella, Salt and Salt Bar, Thelma on Clinton and Li’l Gem, has received five Michelin Bib Gourmand awards. Kiitch, which connects chefs and consumers online and in person, is backed by investors like NBA star LeBron James.
SHK will also host events to aid local veterans and their families. Menu items will include steamers, lobster, and whole grilled fish including branzino on the bone and olive oil poached cod with orange reduction and dill — as well as burgers, vegetarian and vegan specialties.
Southampton also has a slew of new openings, led by Chef Julian Medina – owner of Manhattan’s Toloache, Coppelia, Tacuba Mexican Cantina, La Chula Taqueria, El Fish Shack and Kuxé – who is launching El Verano. “I have a house in Quogue and have been looking for the perfect location. El Verano will be open all year round with my signature dishes like the huitlacoche and black truffle quesadilla, lobster tacos, ceviches and carne asada,” Medina said.
Chef Andrew Molen will be executive chef/partner at Michael Pitsinos’ Capri Hotel in Southampton — a 29-room hot spot that boasts Naia and the poolside Bathing Club. Expect farm-to-table wagyu steaks and burgers, homemade pastas and harissa lamb chops. Pavlos Devaris will be joining Molen as head chef.
Enchante Bistro will also finally open at Red Bar Brasserie’s former space on Route 27, with south of France classics like Nicoise salad and Dover sole.
Main Prospect, at 15 Prospect St., will unveil a private lounge upstairs, Nolan’s Room, with karaoke, video gaming and a private members cigar lounge. They are also offering a beach concierge service.
Meanwhile, Claude’s Restaurant at the Southampton Inn, at 91 Hill Street, has a tavern-style menu from new chef Darren Cucia.
The ever-popular Union Burger Bar – from owner Ian Duke with award-winning Executive Chef Scott Kampf, with their Colorado Beef burgers – is launching an all-new outdoor Sushi Bar at 40 Bowden Square.
And popular restaurateur Tony Fortuna and Derek Axelrod, the team from T-Bar Steak and Lounge on the Upper East Side, have revamped the outside terrace and garden space at T-Bar Southampton — a classic spot for evening cocktails and dinner, at 268 Elm Street.
In Westhampton, Chef Drew Hiatt, an alum of Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Topping Rose House, will open Fauna.
Further east in Montauk, Sean Feeney is opening a Fini Pizza outpost. There’s also Mavericks, a new local surf-and-turf eatery at 51 South Edgemere Street. It boasts a 275-bottle wine list — from James Beard-nominated chef Jeremy Blutstein, the former chef at Crow’s Nest and Showfish at Gurney’s Star Island, and partner/sommelier Vanessa Price, wine director of Wildflower Farms.
The 200-seat eatery, with a 40-seat outdoor patio, features an extensive global wine list and views of Fort Pond. Floor-to-ceiling windows lining more than half the restaurant offer sunset views. There’s also a 12 seat bar, and decor includes an original Andy Warhol screen print from his Cow series.
South Fork veteran Zach Erdem, of 75 Main and Blu Mar, is also bringing his cuisine to the North Fork with Zerdem, which opens this weekend. It has 120 seats, 40 indoor and 80 outdoor.
“It’s been my target for the past few years. There’s lots of people, events, similar price points and 42 wineries. It’s like Napa on the East Coast, with farms, local produce and local fishermen,” Erdem said.
“The food will be Mediterranean Greek/seafood,” he added.
As for pop-ups, there’s an onslaught. Charlie Bird and Little Owl will launch a dining series at Rosie’s Amagansett.
In Water Mill, Kissaki, at 670 Montauk Highway, will host Miami’s Lilikoi during the day, from chef/owner Manuel Torterola, before Kissaki opens for dinner service. Lilikoi offers a casual, healthy, Hawaiian-style vibe — think acai bowls, juices, smoothies and al fresco dining.
PastaRAMEN will also launch at Kissaki for a special weekly dinner party series — from Kissaki owner Garry Kanfer and Montclair Hospitality Group’s founder Luck Sarabhayavanija and CEO Joey Simons. Two 12-person seatings will be offered on Sunday and Monday nights from June 26 through Aug. 28.
Dan’s Taste of Summer will celebrate all the new cuisine with five events.
The first launches the season with a toast on May 28 at the Rosé Soirée, which will be held at the Southampton Arts Center, celebrating local vineyards, international wines and 18 top chefs from Long Island.
The following month, on June 22, Chefs of the Hamptons will launch at EHP Resort & Marina’s Si Si Restaurant headlined by Tourondel and Medina.
Next up is a Clambake at Gurney’s Montauk Resort on July 13.
Rounding out the series is the GrillHampton barbeque event with a live concert at East Hampton Clubhouse on Aug. 5 and Dan’s Taste x Gurney’s curating top chefs from across the country on Aug. 17.
Tickets range in price from $149 to $350 for VIP experiences.
“We’ve had unprecedented participation from the East End restaurant community,” says Donny Evans, the chef whisperer who has produced the Hamptons Taste of Summer events for the past 12 years. “We’ll be showcasing classic restaurants, like Union Steak and Sushi, Si Si at East Hampton Point and Gurney’s, as well as some of the new ones — like Laurent Tourondel’s eLTacobar and Julian Medina’s El Verona.”
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