Our companion animals Otis and Galileo deserve a respite from the city as much as we do. Lucky for us, c/o The Maidstone in East Hampton offers the perfect family getaway for all of us.
This boutique hotel’s rooms are named after various Swedish authors and artists, and come with a nice supply of bath and body products by Malin + Goetz. The Maidstone makes every aspect of one’s stay relaxing and dog-friendly, including suggestions about where to enjoy some beach time with the pups or places to explore in East Hampton and the neighboring towns with them. Late afternoons, it’s time for “Yappy Hour” in the cozy lounge or on the patio; sip one of Leandro’s amazing Strawberry Mojitos while the pups enjoy something off the Woof Menu. And, in the evening, the four-legged guests are invited to dine along with you in The Living Room Restaurant. The Living Room embraces the slow-food philosophy and is vegan-friendly, with plenty of fresh, local produce at work in the kitchen. For dinner there on our most recent visit, we started with the amazing Living Room Salad (love the pine nuts and shaved zucchini!) and then each had the roasted root vegetables entree.
In the mornings and early evenings, we enjoyed long family walks on Main Beach, just three minutes from the hotel. (During summer season, dogs are allowed on the beach before 9am and after 6pm.) Other great spots for some beach time with the pups: the area surrounding Montauk Lighthouse, undeveloped coastline with pretty views into the horizon, and Maidstone Park Beach, secluded and serene.
The Faves List (updated April 2015)
The Hamptons has so much to offer when it comes to dining, wining, and relaxing. Here are some of my favorites — from the upscale dining experience to the super-casual neighborhood coffee joint.
- Nick & Toni’s (East Hampton)
The fine dining experience you won’t want to miss, which is why this outpost of a NYC favorite is always a good choice for an occasion. Great atmosphere, food, and wine. Reservation is a must during the summer season. Seth and I ordered the same thing: Seared Herb Polenta served over an array of roasted vegetables. To start, try the Watermelon Salad: a beautiful combination of melon, spearmint, red onion, and Kalamata olives (hold the pecorino romano cheese!)
- Babette’s (East Hampton)
Babette’s is hugely popular for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s a great place to dine outside and people watch, too. You can go for something simple and classic like Bucatini Pomodoro with shitake mushrooms and basil (add pan-crisped tofu); or, get adventurous like I did and order the Creole Casserole. Definitely a culinary experience outside of my usual focus on whole foods, this dish is an insane (indulgent, gooey, delicious) combination: garlic mashed potato, layered with kale, succotash, roasted garlic pecan, bbq tofu, salsa, and baked-on soy cheddar. On a healthier note, my usual pick would be the Pistachio-crusted Tempeh. Kale Salad to start is a must.
- Fresh (Bridehampton)
An open rustic venue, complete with a friendly bar that seems to welcome a healthy mix of locals and out-of-owners like us; we had dinner there on a “Live Music Monday” that filled the room with some great blues. There are many, many (clearly marked) options. And, with vegetarian options, they even suggest how to make it vegan. To start, my husband and I split the Summer Roll — julienned hearts of romaine, beets, carrots, avocado, peppers, scallions, sprouts, and daikon wrapped in collard green leaf with tomato chipotle aioli. For an entree, I stuck to my rule of having the spinach salad whenever it’s offered on a menu. Fresh’s is a simple salad of warmed baby spinach and grilled portobello mushroom. In lieu of shaved Parmesan, they added some sprouts to mine and served it with a smoked red onion balsamic vinaigrette. Seth went for the special that evening, soba noodles tossed with a light Hoison sauce and oodles and oodles of fresh vegetables. Great atmosphere, great food. Instant fave.
- Simply Sublime (East Hampton)
A delightful little find — look for the cheery lavender and yellow sign if you’re on your way back from the Pollock-Krasner house! You can grab a bite and eat right there at the outside picnic table, but my husband and I took our wraps to go, along with some extra goodies for the road. SO good, we came back a day later for a redux: the delicious Thai Seitan Wrap, full of lettuce, carrots, sprouts, and a light peanut sauce. The first day, I also got the day’s soup, a tasty Carrot Ginger; on Day 2, I sampled Simply Sublime’s delicious vegan chili. My husband Seth wouldn’t forgive me if I failed to mention the Vanilla Coconut Chews.
- Sen (Sag Harbor)
The place to satisfy your sushi hankerings while you’re here. Very vegan-friendly, just like it’s NYC location. After sauntering around the harbor, savor a variety of vegetable sushi and vegetable rolls. Also some great options under small plates and salads.
- The Cuddy (Sag Harbor)
Right next door to Sen (same owners), this new-to-the-scene gastropub (it opened in May) is the place to come if you’re into treating yourself to a specialty cocktail. Try the Gentleman’s Favor, which is a cross between an Old-Fashioned and a Manhattan. Our bartender said the Gin Daisy is also one of the super-popular cocktails.
- Provisions (Sag Harbor)
Right around the corner from Sen and The Cuddy, this natural market and cafe is the perfect shopping stop for any cruelty items you may need during your stay — whether it’s some novelty food items, quick snacks, shampoo, or cosmetics.
- Serafina (East Hampton)
There are quite a few Serafina locations, including one in our Upper West Side neighborhood. But when you’ve already had a full day, it’s getting late, and you don’t have a reservation somewhere, this can be the perfect solution and a little taste of home away from home. The lively bar area had the Yankees game on, so I got to check the score before heading out to the patio, packed with people chatting over large plates of pasta. Some tips about ordering here: while Bruschetta is always a good appetizer, I highly recommend ordering a couple of the side dishes instead — I like the green lentils and the ratatouille. The sides are perfect to pair with the bread brought to your table. As an entree, Serafina does a beautiful presentation of spaghetti squash topped with fresh vegetables; I ask for the Arrabbiata sauce instead of the tomato sauce it usually comes with — not too spicy, but just the right amount of oomph.
- La Fondita (Amagansett)
La Fondita is the perfect little roadside stop –with its casual vibe and picnic tables outside — that I cannot resist calling it a fave. Vegetarian/vegan options are clearly marked on the menu now: I highly recommend the “Mariachi” tacos, a mix of fresh vegetables on soft corn tortillas. They are filling without leaving you feeling overstuffed. Two tacos is a light lunch or late afternoon snack (after the beach); if you are dining with a friend, go for the “six tacos for $15” deal.
- Goldberg’s (East Hampton)
Family tradition, each Sunday we have a bagel breakfast. When we can, we carry the tradition with us when we’re traveling. Goldberg’s has a few locations, and it’s simply the best bagel in the Hamptons. Tofu cream cheese is on the menu.
- Hampton Chutney Co. (Amangansett)
You can grab a couple of dosas to go for the beach or enjoy eating in Amangansett Square. I had the Grilled Portobello Mushroom with cilantro chutney, while my husband had the Potato Masala with peanut chutney. The pups, eating their lunch right beside us in the square, were very interested in our lunch. I may have to place a separate order for them the next time we visit.
- Jack’s Sir Brew Coffee (Amagansett)
Also part of Amagansett Square, this busy cafe makes a great cup of joe. There are specialty items for sale, too; everything from flip-flops to kale chips by New York Naturals.
- East Hampton Gourmet
You would never know by looking at this little tucked away place that it is THE place to visit for homemade veggie burgers (served on multigrain pita). Mostly, this is a to-go place, so grab a side of the roasted cauliflower or roasted corn salad… and the raw coconut bliss bites for dessert (taste like Almond Joy bars). I also recommend the crispbreads (saffron & fennel, chipotle & cumin). You can order these from the online store for a taste of the Hamptons delivered to your door!
- Mary’s Marvelous (East Hampton, Amagansett)
Not a vegan place per se, but Mary’s offers a couple of Panini sandwiches that can be veganized easily: just ask for the rice wrap instead of the panini bread. The kitchen still pressed our wraps, so they were warm and slightly crisped. We had a Falafel (switch out the lemon cilantro sauce — not vegan — for the chili hummus) and a Shitake Mushroom. I also grabbed a side of Quinoa Tabbouleh for our take-away lunch.
- Wolffer Estate Vineyard (Sagaponack)
You’ll see Wolffer wines on menus when you’re dining out. Great news! They are vegan-friendly, not using any animal products in their production and processing. The Wolffer Wine Stand is located on Route 27, a quick stop on the way back to the city. I bought a couple bottles of the Classic White and a couple of the Cabernet Franc to bring home. It will be fun to share a taste of the Hamptons with friends.
- Hampton Coffee Co. (Water Mill)
You can get Hampton Coffee in many places throughout the Hamptons and back in NYC. At the flagship cafe, visitors are invited to watch them roasting the coffee. And, although I say flagship, you should know it’s still a cozy little coffee place. We enjoyed some time on a rainy afternoon there, just sitting and reading. Also while you’re there: check out Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co., set up in the cafe’s corner. It’s a great addition to the cafe, and might be just the perfect treat if you’re traveling with kids.
Don’t miss out on all the local farm stands, including several right along Route 27. Especially because this is my first summer back on the east coast after several years in Tucson, I have been so delighted to be back in a place where “local” doesn’t mean miles and miles away (usually California or Mexico).
On the way back to the city, I loaded up my market bag with fresh vegetables, all locally grown. One of our first treats back home: Field Roast grain sausage sandwiches on Italian bread piled with fresh grilled onions and peppers. Other goodies in my bag: cucumbers, tomatoes, Vidalia onions, baby white Portobellos, sweet corn, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and cantaloupe. Check back with me next week, when I’ll share my recipe for what I’m calling my Route 27 Salad.