Southampton welcomes a piece of Provence with new culinary experience, Maison Vivienne. Executive Chef Florian Hugo, native to Provence and a former student under legendary Chef Paul Bocuse, serves up years of experience to a dining room designed for the discerning Francophile.
The outdoor terrace welcomes guests with blooming hydrangeas and lavender, tying into an interior art installation of flowers from regional lavender fields. Exposed above the cathedral ceiling are the building’s original 17th-Century beams, with Gothic black crystal chandeliers hanging below to mirror the black polished floors. The walls are adorned with chic artwork by New York City-based artist Tina Psoinos, featuring female portraits of pop culture. The combination of design aesthetics blend seamlessly.
Yet the real centerpiece is Chef Hugo’s food, which delights in the details. Even the butter for bread is distinct, accentuated with black Hawaiian lava salt. At a recent visit, I was served a Salade Nicoise with half Maine lobster with yellowfin tuna, coriander, haricot verts, grilled peppers, baby Yukon potatoes, tarragon, tomato confit, marinated shallot, celery leaves, Taggiasche olives, and Dijon mustard.
The purple baby Yukons popped with flavor, and the honey mustard vinaigrette was a zesty blanket, with just a touch of anchovies. Next, I tried gambas grillées au pastis — grilled prawns flambéed with pastis, green chickpea hummus, fresh peas, mint basil oil, and Satur Farms micro greens. This fishy dish surprises with an aioli sauce and fava beans, every forkful a delight.
As I sipped my signature drink, The Vivienne, a lavender lemonade martini, I envisioned myself lounging along the Côte d’Azur, with the warm sun, and salty breeze through my hair. The ambient music playing in the background transported me to the Mediterranean, while the lingering flavors de la mer tantalized my palate.
A honey lavender glaze brought me back to the Hamptons with the Long Island duck magret made with port-marinated roasted figs, sun choke purée, and Gastrique, each savory taste pairing well together. Next was the free-range chicken breast, pan roasted with farro and asparagus risotto, shiitake mushrooms, and herb chicken jus, making it a heavier dish. The skin was crisp and tasted of rosemary. The dish was delicious but could have been perhaps better saved for colder months, when the leaves begin to turn, as something to look forward to. To conclude, in true European form, I sipped a Lavazza cappuccino.
Business partners and co-owners Svitlana Flom and Allan Basaran divide up responsibility well in this new eatery, which they plan to keep open year-round. Basaran, formerly at Nello in New York City, manages the front of the house while Flom takes care of the creative side of the business, including a close relationship with the kitchen. Flom’s culinary attention was piqued during trips to Paris and Provence, igniting her affinity for French cuisine. The restaurant was named after her three-year-old daughter, Vivian.
“She loved the idea of having a restaurant named after her,” Flom detailed. “I recall taking both girls to Maison Vivienne for the first time after the renovations and staying at our boutique hotel on property. Vivian woke up in the morning smiling and the first thing she said was ‘Maison Vivienne,’ with a perfect French accent. She loves greeting customers at the front and generously compliments them.”
Guests arriving asserted a certain level of understated elegance. Casual and classy, Maison Vivienne carries the essence of European class a mere stone’s throw away from Southampton town.
“Food is my creative passion that I tremendously enjoy. I work closely with Chef Hugo on the menu design and visual presentation of each dish on the plate,” Flom explained. “That really makes the difference as people tend to eat with their eyes first. A visually striking dish changes the aesthetic and elevates each guest’s dining experience.”