Madame Tongs


Madame Tong’s, the Southampton restaurant that was the subject of ownership controversy last summer, is hoping to cross over into more maturity with new owners, a different menu and a revitalized concentration on hospitality and service.

The Elm Street restaurant will still serve Asian cuisine, adding more of a French style of Asian fusion to the menu, according to Ian Duke, co-owner of Madame Tong’s Redeux along with David Hilty.

“Because we wanted to stay with the concept, we wanted to do it properly,” said Mr. Duke, who also owns Prohibition and Lucky’s Famous Burgers in Manhattan.

For starters, menu items include $9 cold sesame noodles in a sesame peanut sauce, $15 tamarind glazed spare ribs and $18 tuna and beet tartare in pomegranate ponzu drizzle.

Mr. Duke started making the restaurant rounds as a teenager, working at first in a Dobbs Ferry restaurant as a dishwasher while attending school.

He also enjoys cooking, though he freely admits that “Asian is not my strength.” At Madame Tong’s Redeux, he’s leaving that up to executive chef Frank Coe.

Dinner entrées include the $24 Thai chicken in a light coconut lime curry sauce with bamboo rice and vegetable stir fry; $28 crispy Long Island duck breast in a passion-plum-pomegranate sauce with mixed vegetable stir-fry and sweet potato purée; $27 tuna “ching chong chew” with a julienne of vegetable stir-fry and seaweed noodles and flavours of the Orient topped with seared tuna steak; $30 fillet of halibut in a melon-miso glaze with steamed baby bok choy and bamboo rice; and $35 fillet of striped bass in a light soy scallion and papaya sauce with snow peas and forbidden black rice.

Guests looking for lighter fare can order from the sushi menu: $10 Hamptons redux roll, a soy wrapped avocado and mango; $11 spicy tuna roll, a nori wrap of tuna, cucumber, carrots and tobiko; $16 Maine lump crab roll, soy wrapped mango, lettuce, pickled ginger and tobiko crusted; and $18 lobster tempura soy wrapped roll with avocado, daikon and sirracha.

The restaurant also serves a Sunday brunch from 1 to 5 p.m. and offers boxed lunches for guests waiting to board the Long Island Rail Road just paces away from the building. “We want to welcome [patrons] to an operation that is being executed by a tight-knit staff of professionals, and a beautiful atmosphere with an emphasis on both service and quality of food and beverage being provided,” Mr. Duke said, hoping patrons will put aside any negative associations they might have in their minds based on their experience of the former Madame Tong’s.

The revamped restaurant opened July 3, after being taken over from former owner Ed “Jean Luc” Kleefield, who also owned Grappa and JLX Bistro in Sag Harbor and Prime 103 in East Hampton. Mr. Kleefield has no role in the new establishment, said Mr. Duke, who added that he would not have opened his own version of the restaurant if Mr. Kleefield was still involved.

Because the new owners didn’t sign the lease until late May, they decided to keep the old name for branding purposes.

On a recent afternoon before opening for the evening, Mr. Duke leaned back in his chair at a table on the outdoor patio and pointed to the grassy lawn, lined with lush vegetation and tiki torches, a lawn he still remembers from his first trip to the restaurant five years ago. “That lawn,” he said. “Is a hidden oasis.”

Guests can chat late into the night while sipping cocktails at the bar, or sit on wooden 
benches lining the green. The dinner buzz usually starts around 7 p.m. but later in the night, 
furniture is removed from the indoor dining area so that guests can dance beneath green, orange and red lanterns. “As it gets a little later, the energy builds and the place is just rocking,” Mr. Duke said.

The restaurant has already hosted several birthday parties and a public relations event and has several wedding receptions booked for the coming months.

“We’re not in this at all for one summer,” Mr. Duke said. “We’re in it for the long haul.”

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