Good day! My family and I had the most wonderful dinner in the restaurant yesterday evening. The wine was fabulous, as was the service. We all especially enjoyed the spring pea and mint soup appetizer. Would it be possible to get a copy of that recipe? It would be much appreciated. Thanks again and we look forward to another visit to the hotel!
Avenue Magazine June 2015
By Christopher Lawrence
Nobody can really remember who first said of the front porch at Singapore’s Raffles Hotel that “if one sits there long enough, one will eventually meet everybody who is anybody.” Sag Harbor cannot be said to be Singapore, but there are those summer nights when the heat is thick and damp and packs—of yachtsmen and their expensive wives, of giddy teenagers, of prosperous New Yorkers of all stripes—shuffle up and down Main Street. And when the Jitney lurches right up beside the American Hotel’s own famous porch just after midnight, well, it feels quite a bit like a festive nerve center for our very own surreal late-imperial America: “Everybody who is anybody?” On any old summer evening, there are too many boldfaced names to mention. (And fun ones, too. I ducked in a while back to buy a cigar when I collided with the now departed Larry Hagman. Major Nelson! J. R. Ewing himself! On the South Fork—and far, far away from Southfork). That same summer, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s security detail was anxious about the state’s chief executive dining with Billy Joel out on the porch. The Governor and the Piano Man. Just another steamy midseason night at the American Hotel.
The Hotel’s living room–sized lobby area and its barroom marry the masculinity of the 21 Club in its heyday—particularly in the hotel’s back room—to the genteel eccentricities of a London dining club. Ted Conklin, the ever dapper owner, visionary, carpenter, rescuer, sommelier, long-ago resident and chef, and the still presiding pasha of the hotel, was born to an ancient and storied Long Island family. After making his way through Lawrenceville, Babson and a stint as a farmer near the Canadian border, he decided in 1971 that the decrepit former boardinghouse on Main Street (built ca. 1824) deserved to be revived as an oasis of civility for a town whose industrial bottom had just fallen out. The building had not hosted guests for better than four decades, and its ancient owner was using the first-floor dining room as a residence. The story of Theodore Brigham Conklin III standing in the basement, knee-deep in coal dust and removing it by the bucketful, is personal history become village lore. After banging nails and hanging wallpaper himself, he braved the winter of ’71–’72 in a building that still had four privies in back. Ted opened the restaurant for Independence Day weekend in 1972 while serving as his own chef. At this writing, the hotel’s wine list is better than 85 pages long, and there are more than 30,000 bottles beneath the floorboards in the barroom. Wine Spectator has faithfully bestowed its Grand Award on the cellar for decades. The hotel is presently one of only 87 restaurants worldwide to receive the honor.