Little Red and Red Bar Brasserie co-owners and restaurateurs David Loewenberg and Kirk Basnight
Rumor has it that beyond Shippy’s Pumpernickels Restaurant, Southamptonites don’t go out much. But on a recent weekend night, just a few days after Little Red opened across from the verdant expanse of Agawam Park and its fivestar playground, they were all there, perhaps to pay their respects to restaurateur David Loewenberg of Fresno, Red Bar Brasserie and The Beacon fame. Partnerships in the restaurant business can often end in costly frontpage divorces (see Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Restaurant Group debacle), but it seems as though Loewenberg is as fair a partner as he is a host. Once again, he has teamed up with Kirk Basnight, with whom he co-owns Red Bar, to launch their version of a Hamptons casual café.
When dining with the family, choose to eat outside, enclosed in greenery. From your perch at one of the long tables, enjoy the Mediterranean ambiance enhanced by potted palms and an expansive awning. But when out on the town, stay inside, where the action revolves around (what else?) a happy red bar squeezed by throngs of wedge sandals and bare shoulders.
In these early days, the kitchen, aptly manned by executive chef Bob Abrams, was already churning out the kind of modern American brasserie dishes that local diners seem to relish. A lemony fluke crudo rested next to a crunchy fennel salad; the plump poached egg surrounded by lardons dotting curls of frisée matched the French-style rattan chairs, breathing a soft Lyonnaise breeze over the East End sunset. Request a different side dish with the well-roasted chicken (the egg-potato mixture is just too mayonnaise-y for a summer night), but the sautéed monkfish seemed perfectly in its element, gliding in escargot butter and accompanied by caramelized fennel and squash. A luscious sourdough grilled cheese hid brie, duck confit, red cabbage and a hint of mustard to perk things up.
At my table, the reddest desserts—a red velvet cake and a strawberry shortcake topped with a tarragon biscuit—disappeared in a matter of seconds, but for this Swiss writer, the dark chocolate marquise and its candied hazelnuts earned its letter of nobility. No wonder: The pastry chef is Holly Dove-Rozzi, who satisfied our sweet tooth at Della Femina until its close. Come winter, I bet Little Red will work hard to warm us up after a snowball fight in the park. 76-C Jobs Lane, Southampton, 283-3309