Monday, late for dinner, in my opinion, two houseguests and I walked into South Edison, one of the relatively new Montauk restaurants, hoping to get something to eat. A few minutes before 10 p.m., and the place was ringing with conversation. Nearly every table was full, and, after the flustered hostess said something about a big order and how they probably could not seat us, we headed to the Hideaway over on the lake for some Mexican food.
This has so far been the summer of food, or, more accurately, the food business. Wherever you look a new purveyor is opening or an existing one has been renovated top to bottom. It is really astonishing when you consider just some of the gastronomic news in East Hampton: the Red Horse Market, Hampton Country Market, Hampton Seafood Company, 27 Seafood, Swallow East, Sotto Sopra, and Whole Foods, not to mention the blooming farmers market scene.
I had my taste of restaurant work years ago and to this day can’t really imagine why anyone would get into it. I was a busboy for a couple of summers at Georgette’s, where Andrra (also new this year) is on Three Mile Harbor Road, and at the Sea Wolf, where Harbor Bistro is today. It was hot, sweaty, and frenetic in those kitchens, the pay was minimal, and, though I actually enjoyed it, I got out as soon as better prospects emerged.
Wil Van Hazel, a high school friend with perhaps a more highly evolved work ethic at the time, spent years in the old Laundry restaurant kitchen. His tales of thrown knives and wild, drunken fights were enough to make me swear off commercial kitchens for good. He has since gone into the film business, where a different kind of toughness is required.
Cutting back to this summer, another friend has been in the throes of opening a new restaurant here. I have not come straight out and told him I think he is off his rocker, but I’ve come close.
So on Monday night, as our order arrived hot from a kitchen ready to call it a night, I raised my glass in a private toast to all of the people who make it possible — and thanked my lucky stars I was no longer among them.