Babette’s Restaurant, East Hampton

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Babette’s is a small café/restaurant with mostly healthy, organic foods plus juice and smoothie bar. It’s nothing special as far as decor, save a few pieces of artwork. But, the food is delicious. One warning before I begin to explore their gastronomic goodness, it’s pricey. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the season. Days and hours vary during the off season, so call ahead. They don’t accept reservations for breakfast or lunch, so you may very well end up waiting for a table. But, it’s a unique sit down, basically organic restaurant in the Hamptons and worth the wait. But, you should go and be the judge.

Babette, herself, is often on the premises and overseeing the often chaotic operation when it’s busy. They try to be as accommodating as possible when it’s hectic. They have indoor and limited, choice outdoor seating. Sitting outdoors, weather permitting, is fun so you can people watch. Located on Newtown Lane, there’s often a lot of traffic, but it’s often at a crawl and not too disruptive. So, lets get to the food.

I love going here for breakfast. The breakfast menu consists of organic eggs (ask for egg whites if you wish) and many omelettes to choose from, such as one of my favorites, the Champignon: mushrooms and herbs de Provence. There are many combinations to suit most any palate. The sides are wonderful in that you can have turkey bacon, tempeh bacon, turkey pastrami, and turkey sausage, plus fresh vegetables. Another favorite, especially if you can’t make up your mind as to what to order, is the “Jo Mama”. The Jo Mama is one pancake, on piece of French toast, one egg, fruit, steel-cut oatmeal, and roasted herb potatoes. You’ll need a hearty appetite to finish this, or share with a friend. There’s cinnamon swirl French toast and whole grain pancakes. The Woodstock French toast is eight-grain bread dipped in a vanilla soy batter and served with fresh fruit, tahini custard, and granola. There’s a Tuscan Quinoa Bowl with Tuscan kale, butternut squash, and two sunny side up eggs over quinoa. The last time I was at Babatte’s I had the Eggs Romano: poached eggs, crisp polenta, and broccoli rabe in a tomato broth. Scrumptious! There wasn’t so much tomato broth that it overpowered the other ingredients or made the crispy polenta too soggy. It was just enough broth for the bottom of the polenta to soak it up, leaving the tops crispy. It works well when the yolks of the poached eggs flows over the polenta and broccoli rabe. One of my friends tried the New Foo Young: pan seared, herbed scrambled tofu with mushrooms, brown rice, gingered carrot, spinach, cashews, and teriyaki sauce over udon noodles. This was a hit. It showed the chef really understands the balance of ingredients. Try this for something different. There’s steamed asparagus on seven-grain toast with poached eggs, shaved parmesan, and a truffle vinaigrette. A table favorite. There’s a smoked salmon Benedict which is delicious, as well as a nova platter. There’s huevos rancheros deluxe, organic almond maple granola, and steel-cut organic oatmeal.

The lunch menu is a plethora of dishes that are wonderfully delicious, but far too many to list. I’ll tell you of a few favorites on mine and friends. Vietnamese Spring Rolls are crispy and light, made of spicy shrimp, papaya, and minted organic greens in a rice wrap with a piquant dipping sauce. Vagabond salad with free-range grilled chicken breast with blood orange and balsamic glaze over herb dressed penne and greens topped with Gorgonzola and candied pecans. A real winner with the Gorgonzola and candied pecans with a moist chicken breast with a touch of sweetness from the orange and balsamic glaze. Salad of Crisp Goat Cheese Dumplings: roasted beets, haricot verts, baby arugula, almonds, with a preserved lemon vinaigrette. The creaminess of the goat cheese complements it’s crispy exterior and the lemon vinaigrette brightens each bite. The beets are fresh and earthy, and the haricot verts are snap fresh. There are also wraps, sandwiches, burgers and bowls. There’s a free-range turkey burger and a meat and dairy-free lentil burger. Try the Proud Dragon Bowls: steamed seasonal vegetables simmered in Thai peanut sauce, served over organic greens and your choice of brown rice or udon noodles. Top with your choice of grilled, marinated tofu, grilled tempeh, grilled chicken, grilled shrimp or tuna. Sides include BBQ tofu, hummus with pita, grilled tempeh, grilled tofu, sweet potato fries and organic beans. Order several items and try a little of each with family and friends as the choices are all so good it can seem overwhelming.

Now for the dinner menu. Many of the dinner items are similar to what you can have for lunch. Then there are exceptions, such as the halibut, salmon, scallops and tuna. There’s pecan crusted tofu, grilled, smoked tempeh, The Rustic Vegan: blue corn dusted tofu, sautéed vegetables, brown rice and a Korean dipping sauce. (Check for availability in the off season.) The Creole Casbah is a favorite. It’s garlic mashed potatoes layered with bayou style kale, succotash, roasted garlic pecans, BBQ tofu, salsa, sour cream, and baked on Cabot’s cheddar or soy cheddar cheese. Offered regular or vegan. There are a lot of flavors going on here, but they work. For a pasta dish they offer Buccatini Primavera: sautéed broccoli rabe, cherry tomatoes, feta, olives, bell pepper, and basil with your choice of panko crusted tofu or chicken or shrimp. This is only one of two pasta dishes on the menu. I’d like to see more.

Don’t forget about the juice bar which offers both fresh juice and smoothies. They also have a wide assortment of organic hot and cold tea, coffees, and other not so ordinary beverages, such as hot mulled apple cider.

It can get noisy. So, if you’re looking for a quiet dining spot, this isn’t it. However, if you don’t mind raising your voice a little, you should be fine. If you’re especially sensitive to loud noises, don’t sit by the juice bar in the back of the restaurant as that’s pretty loud and runs, seemingly, all the time. The staff is more often than not knowledgable and efficient. There’s a lot of good food to choose from. I go often because I can’t get enough. Or feel free to stop in for just a fresh juice. You’re sure to be pleasantly surprised that this somewhat small restaurant can push out such tasty food in a timely manner. The thing I like best is the combination of ingredients and the many choices. Remember, most everything is organic and healthy. If you’re not sure of something, feel free to ask. The portion sizes are sufficient. The tables are on the small side to accommodate all the dishes and glasses. But, if you can handle some hustle and bustle and, at times, feeling a little cramped, you’ll find this a refreshing treat.

Best Breakfast Sandwich

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Good day, everyone.

Yesterday morning I went into Mary’s Marvelous in East Hampton for an iced cappuccino, a bacon, cheddar and chive scone, and a lemon, ginger, lime, agave drink.

Let me begin by putting it out there that Mary’s, as it’s known, is a bit on the pricey side, even by Hamptons standards. The iced coffee and delicious scone were within reason, but the lemon-lime drink was $9 which I thought was a bit ridiculous given the ingredients are so inexpensive. There was no fancy bottle or label or any kind of packaging that would up the price in my opinion. I was a bit dismayed to pay this price because I enjoy this drink, but $9? (I heard through the grapevine they had a pie on sale last year for $40!)

Having said that, let me tell you why I keep going back to Mary’s. Simply put, the food is always fresh, homemade, and delicious. One of my favorite items is their breakfast sandwich. Take a look at their breakfast menu. My favorite breakfast sandwich is egg, ham and Swiss on a roll. It’s not a typical roll, it’s a seedless, soft, oblong roll. They cook it on what looks like a panini press to get the outside of the bread crispy and warm the inside so the cheese melts. I’m not exactly sure what kind of magic they use to create this deliciousness, but it’s a must have if you like breakfast sandwiches. They offer organic ingredients, turkey bacon, gluten-free bread, and so many more choices to suit most any palate.

Now, let’s take a look at their lunch menu. What I enjoy about their lunch menu is their choice of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options that are full of flavor. I always lean toward their paninis, but take a good look at the menu before making a decision as each item I’ve ever tried is just as delicious as the next. They also offer mini sandwiches if you care for a little less sandwich, or perhaps want to pair it with one of their soups. You’ll need to go back more than once to try their array of sandwiches of mouth watering combinations.

Mary’s also has freshly made juice and smoothies. Yum! My favorite, that’s not on the menu, is a combination of berries and ice with just a touch of apple juice to lend some sweetness. It’s cold and refreshing. Their green drinks are all described in detail on the board behind the counter and can contain everything from flax seeds to whey protein. You can choose soy milk if you don’t care for cow’s milk. And you can add or take away ingredients to create your own. However, I wouldn’t try that when it’s busy.

Mary’s also serves terrific, homemade baked goods. At the top of my list are the scones. My favorites being the scones that seem to have been left off of their online menu. My two favorites are the bacon, cheddar, chive scone and the gruyère, black pepper scone. Delicate, sometimes more dry than others, but bursting with flavor. I’m big on consistency and the scones aren’t always made exactly like the time before. Yet, oddly, it’s not disappointing. They’re always good. I’m not a huge fan of sweets, but word of mouth is Mary’s assortment of baked goods are tasty and, again, all homemade.

Also visit Mary’s Marvelous on Main Street in Amagansett.

So, Mary, even though I sometimes find your prices to be high, I’m still a loyal customer because your food shines through each and every time. One small complaint is that service can be on the slow side, even when it’s not busy. And the little East Hampton store fills up quickly. I’ve watched the workers behind the counter to see why I sometimes feel I’m waiting too long. I’ll say this, the staff is obviously trained to be methodical. Everything they take out goes back in it’s place. The milk containers for frothing milk are cleaned before the next drink is made, the espresso machine is wiped down, and it stays clean. So, again, to have to wait a couple extra minutes knowing my food and drink is being served in a clean environment is well worth the wait.

Where they get ya. When you stand in line to pay, you’ll normally be standing by their cold case where they offer beverages, cold soups and salads, and pre-made sandwiches. A quart of soup is $10. A beverage can be close to $10. So, there’s another $20 you’ve spent just by being tempted while you’re standing in line. Good strategic marketing, I suppose.

On parking at the East Hampton store, ugh. There are only three parking spots out front, then several across the road or down the street. This can be challenging in the summer. But overall, you should go. Be prepared to pay a little more than usual, but know it will be worth it!