BYLINES BY SCOTT
CHEF JEAN-GEORGES VONGERICHTEN TAKES THE REINS AT TOPPING ROSE HOUSE
In his newest East End endeavor, renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten reimagines the historic Topping Rose House as a beach-chic destination.
What will you do to change things at Topping Rose House but keep customers satisfied?It’s 75 seats inside and 70 outside and open all year long. They have a beautiful garden, and we are looking forward to making it work this season and moving forward. We thought the restaurant was beautiful, but with the white tablecloths, everything wasn’t beachy enough. So we took the same tables and took the white tablecloths off and sanded the oak and kept them natural. We also changed the chef and [changed] things around to make it more simple and beach chic.
Was it a difficult project to take on? It was an easy transition—the team was here. We haven’t touched one thing in the kitchen except adding a pizza oven. The owner made a small investment and we really updated the look and feel.
What can we expect the new menu to look like? It’s refreshing—there will be a signature pizza, grilled seafood, and some pasta. There will be something for everyone on the menu. Sometimes as a chef you don’t think this way, but I always also try to think as the customer and [figure out] what they would want. It’s important that there is something for everyone
Any signature dishes? We really are going to try to use everything local. We are trying to make it a seafood-centric place. The lobster avocado on a warm bun will be delicious. A lot of shellfish—I found an escargot farm about five miles away from the restaurant and will create a great escargot dish. We are going to work with the local farmers to fill the menu with great produce. Sixty percent of our vegetables come from the garden, but in a couple of weeks, 100 percent. Even the bouquets on the table will be flowers from our gardens.
The pig roast on Sundays was a favorite. Anything you’re planning to do for a special evening? We will continue the pig roast but want to [include] some simple, not composed dishes—simple gray monkfish, lobster, sea bass, and you choose the sides. When you are in vacation mode, you don’t want a composed dish but want a great piece of fish and lemon—something simple.
Does it make you nervous to be open year-round in a seasonal market? Yeah, it did, but I think there are many restaurants that do well all year round. Sant Ambroeus and Nick & Toni’s are doing well, I think. They are present, and it makes a difference.
Having not spent much time out East before this project, what is the one thing you feel was a misperception about opening out here? For many years, people said people out East are difficult, and I find it the complete opposite. They are pleasant and nice and appreciative. And the drive isn’t that bad either. One night I left at 10 pm on a Friday night and I drove here and made it at 11:45.
What do you want diners to feel when they walk in? I want people coming in almost barefoot, no socks. Coming from the beach or just relaxing. If you don’t need socks, who needs tablecloths? I really want people to feel at ease and relaxed and [enjoy] a glass of rose?. We are actually planning to put a potanque court in the garden. A restaurant today has to be a place to relax and to get out of the city. We took out the fuss; I want people to be more relaxed and stay longer and drink more.
What do you want them to say on the way out? “Can I make a reservation for next week?” 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Tpk., 537-0870.
Read the Article at Hamptons-Magazine.com HERE.