Terrance Brennan, who has been consulting since closing his Michelin-starred Manhattan restaurant Picholine in 2015, took the reins at the new Blu Mar in Southampton, owned by Zach Erdem of 75 Main fame, but their union seems to have hit a rough patch, and Brennan left the restaurant, at least temporarily.
“I was looking to do Mediterranean, and it was a great concept — Milos meets Marea meets Picholine,’’ said Brennan, rattling off two of the city’s most popular high-end dining rooms. “I like Zach but he is in breach of our contract.’’
Erdem says he paid the chef half of his promised fee, but that Brennan had assured him his name would bring in massive business, and so far, things have been slow. “I liked him, he did amazing food but it’s the middle of summer and so far, nobody came for him, so I didn’t feel comfortable paying him. He told me his name was gold, but I didn’t see any gold.”
Brennan returns the personal compliment, but argues with Erdem’s timing. “I like Zach, but he is used to 75 Main which is open all year, and we opened without a liquor license and without a finished website — there weren’t even food photos up. A lot of other places chose not to open until their liquor licenses had come through. It was very difficult to get staff because at the beginning we didn’t even have housing for them; it was just a garde manger, a couple of dishwashers, and me. I never worked so hard in my life. From what I understand, after Memorial Day there is a three-week lull; we have 200 seats and once July hits I was hoping to do 400 to 600 covers a night.’’
Both agree that the kitchen is now in great shape, with chefs trained at Il Mulino and Jose Andres restaurants. “He has a strong staff in place,’’ said Brennan. “I’ve suspended services for now and I hope he works it out; if not, I wish him well.’’
Erdem says he is trying to honor their arrangement, and for now he will continue with the Brennan’s menu and staff. “He hired a great team and a has a wonderful concept, but the Hamptons is not for Michelin chefs,’’ he insisted. “Even Le Cirque didn’t make it here.’’
Michelin-starred chef Massimo Soto might disagree. He helped orchestrate the successful opening of Il Divo in Manhattan, and is back in the Hamptons this summer at Dopo La Spiaggia’s locations in Sag Harbor and East Hampton, where he’s expanded the menu. “I am adding more healthy dishes,’’ reported the toque.
“My two children have Celiac, so I am trying to focus on many without flour and I’m making gluten-free gnocchi with purple potato, rice flour, and agar agar; the sauce is a vegetable ragout with rosemary, which is an antioxidant. People love it,” said Soto. “For a restaurant that had a signature dish of rigatoni with pork ragout, we are surprised at how well this is selling. I have also cancelled the butter from the kitchen.’’
Another chef interested in conscious dining is Jay Lippin, co-chair of the Chefs Alliance for Slow Food USA and on the board of Slow Food East End, who took over the stove at Baron’s Cove last summer. This year, he has introduced a grilled trumpet and farro bowl with heirloom roasted baby carrots; and espresso-crusted yellowfin tuna with frisée, lovage, pickled watermelon, pickled ginger, and feta; along with a 16-ounce bone-in Berkshire pork chop char-grilled with chimichurri sauce made with herbs from local farms.
The hotel has started Monday Soirées on its deck, which has an outdoor fireplace, and overlooks the lawn, pool, and bay. From 4 to 9 PM, rosé, oysters, lobster, and shrimp will be served with a backdrop of live music.