Farm-to-table has been a recurring theme of late.
Most high-end menus boast the farms where the ingredients were grown. It’s easy to use one ingredient from a local farm and claim to be a farm-to-table restaurant, but it is much more difficult to go the extra mile and work personally with the farmers to procure all of the ingredients for the menu. That is exactly what Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton is currently doing. This luxe eatery, at the Topping Rose House hotel and inn, has earned its chops as an in-demand slow food dining mecca.
Topping Rose House
Most Popular: Heirloom Kale Salad; $18
Signature: Bridgehampton Town Fry; $22
Chef’s Favorite: Bucatini; $20 or 28
Topping Rose House is famed chef and “Top Chef” head judge Tom Colicchio’s restaurant. Ty Kotz is the chef de cuisine, and the menu, under his direction, is a compilation of ideas from Mr. Kotz, Mr. Colicchio, and Craft (a Manhattan-based Colicchio restaurant) executive chef James Tracey. At Topping Rose, Mr. Kotz and his kitchen staff have brought the quality, seasonal, local, American cuisine that the Craft brand is known for to the Hamptons for the first time.
“The vision for the food is farm-to-table cuisine, really letting the vegetables and the sides shine, or be the star,” Mr. Kotz said. “When we are using heirloom tomatoes, and this and that, those are the ingredients we want to highlight because we are using them in their peak form. We can get everything off the same truck from the city, but it’s all here locally. It’s literally a few miles away … and in many cases on our own property. We have our own farm in the back of the property.”
Topping Rose House is closing in on finishing its first year, and although it is a destination spot for dinner, the restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, with brunch being served on the weekends as well. According to Mr. Kotz, when the lunch menu was being designed, Mr. Colicchio did not want it to be just an afterthought of the dinner menu; he wanted it to be special and have the ability to stand on its own.
The lunch portions are designed to be a little bigger than appetizer-sized, so patrons can have a tasting blowout if they want, or a light lunch, according to the chef.
“I think we want to break ourselves down a little bit as not necessarily a destination spot all the time,” Mr. Kotz reported. “We do lunch everyday and brunch on Saturday and Sunday, so that’s what we’re really trying to attract, say ‘hey come in for lunch in jeans and a tee-shirt,’ enjoy some real quality food from local farms.”
He continued, “I think that’s our next stage of things is ‘how do we become more a part of the community?’”
The farming and fishing community is something that Topping Rose House is definitely a part of already. The list of farms on the menu is not just for show, and it changes as the farms being used changes.
The walk-in refrigerator at the downstairs kitchen smells like farm-fresh produce. As per Mr. Colicchio’s famous standards, it’s also immaculately clean and filled with clear Lexan containers of local produce, which are labeled and meticulously categorized.
Mr. Kotz pointed out the micro-greens, grown specifically for him by Brandon at Good Water Farms in East Hampton.
“All of his stuff is certified organic and grown in soil. We get it alive still, which is very unique, it’s not like the hydroponically grown that are pretty but they don’t have any flavor,” Mr. Kotz reported. “These are insane, the basil is vibrant in-your-face basil; the pea shoots that we use, they taste like peas.”
The quality of ingredients used, and the passion and respect for those ingredients that the team at Topping Rose House has, is what sets the restaurant apart.
The most popular item on the menu is the Heirloom Kale Salad. The chef takes all kinds of local kale from local farms, including the restaurant’s own garden, and he slices it with a fine julienne cut. It is tossed with dried currants, toasted pine nuts, olive oil and lemon, and seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with Pecorino Romano cheese.
“The kale just arrived. We just unloaded from Balsam Farms and it’s all muddy and picked in the rain and now we have to clean it,” the chef said. “We are at a price-point where some people might think ‘oh you’re pricey,’ but after they leave I feel like there is value to it, you leave feeling like you have had something really special. You’ve had plants that were alive and sometimes are still alive.”
The Bridgehampton Town Fry is an item on the breakfast and brunch menu that has become the signature of Topping Rose House. Local oysters are fried and set atop soft scrambled eggs stuffed with house-cured bacon, onions, fresh chives and parsley. The dish is served with arugula and toast points and dusted with a special chili powder that is strained out of Tabasco sauce before it is bottled.
Mr. Kotz, Mr. Colicchio and Mr. Tracey all agree on the chef’s favorite dish, which is the Bucatini. All pasta is made in-house. Local clams are popped open, the chef sweats chili flakes and fresh chili in olive oil, adds the clam juice and tosses the fresh pasta and plump clams in the simple sauce at the end.
“You can’t hide behind it, it’s very simple,” Mr. Kotz said. “Its just dynamite, it speaks of being near the ocean.”
Topping Rose House is located at the corner of the Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Turnpike and Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton. It is open seven days a week, year-round, serving breakfast daily from 7 a.m. to 10:30, lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For reservations or more information, call 537-0870 or visit toppingrosehouse.com.