Local fluke with Balsam Farms sweet corn and cherry tomatoes
“Smorebrod,” little open-face sandwiches
c/o The Maidstone’s fireplace
The Living Room at c/o The Maidstone
“Do you want some?” asks my neighbor, catching the roving eye I cast on his ample tarte flambée. The Living Room in the recently reborn c/o The Maidstone should be renamed “The Dining Room,” because the tables are so close that conversations, glances and appetizers flow freely among diners. Around them, Jenny Ljungberg, the new Swedish owner, has created a mosaic of busy turquoise and fuchsia touches, flowery wallpaper and a whitewashed wood floor that nicely reverberates the jolly buzz. Sweden also informs the kitchen, ruled by self-proclaimed locavore James Carpenter, fresh from stints at The American Hotel and Della Femina.
“Slow food” and its artisanal philosophy form an overarching theme on the menu, but the emphasis on design extends to the table as well. An elegant square porcelain plate holds a minimal and stunning smorgasbord of silky gravlax, rich herring and tiny shrimp, leaving me hungry for more. Tender mushrooms, tipsy on brandy, rest atop toasted brioche, but the delicate disc of potato pancake framed by red and black caviar gets my top vote. Named for a famous 19th-century bon vivant with an operatic career, toast “Pelle Jansson” supports thin slices of delicate grass-fed-beef carpaccio with yet more caviar and clouds of crème fraîche.
Dying to know about that tarte flambée? Well, it was worth the reach: Studded with bits of crunchy bacon, it’s chewy, supple and satisfying in that tongue-meets-carbs kind of way.
Also satisfying were Mecox Bay Dairy ricotta dumplings, lending their grassy richness to the inescapable Swedish meatballs—made with lamb instead of the traditional veal and bobbing about in a tomato broth. Bouillabaisse with its marine bounty and fennel accent sang Marseille more than Stockholm, and a local fluke seared and swimming atop a carrot flan already married earth and ocean, but the whole room seemed to turn and look as the “surf and turf” special made its way to our table: Just-harvested, perfectly seared plump scallops surrounded a hefty and succulent rib-eye steak. The rich wine list tends toward the global but focuses on organic, biodynamic and sustainable vineyards.
Don’t waste calories on Grandma’s cookies; instead, dive into the toffee date cake doused with caramel sauce and honey-vanilla ice cream. More cardiologist-friendly, perhaps, is the seasonal crisp with apple or rhubarb, peppered with buttery cinnamon streusel. Never leave home without Fido? Not to worry. There’s even a slow-food canine “Woof Menu.” 207 Main St., East Hampton, 324-5006; careofhotels.com/maidstone