The Southampton Social Club Reimagines Prohibition
BY SEAN EVANS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIC STRIFFLER
Dining room banquettes
Walking into the Southampton Social Club, it is hard to imagine the casually luxurious room transitioning from upscale dining room to full-on nightclub. Yet each weekend, after the plates have been cleared and the tables pulled away, the place morphs into what could pass for a legitimate boîte in any bustling city’s afterhours district.
Co-owners Ian Duke and David Hilty took over the space late last summer and did away with the trappings of its prior incarnation, Madame Tong’s. During the off season, the restaurateurs reworked the room, adding a library and an open, airy atmosphere so the establishment would be more reminiscent of a luxury social club during Prohibition, “where men would go for ‘enlightenment,’” jokes Duke.
The kitchen regularly plates local favorites like crab cake with potato galette and a mustard caviar remoulade, or pan-roasted Scottish salmon served atop bacon-wrapped Idaho potato with watercress timbale and a shaved carrot salad. Executive chef Matt Creason’s signature dish is a prime dry-aged sliced New York strip, which rests on a mountain of horseradish and Gruyère-infused whipped Yukon potatoes and a mushroom onion and red wing ragout. Be sure to order a side of black cheese truffle fries, which come nestled beneath a melted pot of Gruyère and black truffles. It’s literally heaven on a plate. (If any of the menu items taste delightfully familiar, you may have unknowingly received a sample under the VIP tents at Bridgehampton Polo, where Creason and the team from Southampton Social Club were the official caterers.)
While the restaurant seats 220, “most folks want to dine alfresco on the back deck or side patio,” says Duke. Either locale has prime viewing of the restaurant’s afterhours metamorphosis, where DJs brought in from Manhattan keep guests dancing until dawn, and drink specials like the Bootlegger, a hearty combination of Bulleit rye, honey syrup, lemon juice and craft bitters, are sinfully delicious. The Social Cooler, a mixture of jalapeño-infused tequila, watermelon purée and fresh lime, is another palate-pleaser, while the Raspberry Lemonade, made with Grey Goose, raspberry purée and fresh lemonade, is, according to Duke, “like summer exploded in your mouth.” 256 Elm St., Southampton, 287-1400