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July 1st, 2003

A Hamptons Restaurent

by SoHo Journal Staff

The Crazy Dog Restaurant on Montauk Highway at the entrance to Westhampton Beach gives you more for your money in more ways than one.?Ǭ This Hamptons destination has two (2) restaurants and a great ice cream stand.?Ǭ There is a casual cafe in the front, a truly elegant dining room in back and a free standing ice cream stand outside.

The cafe’s decor and feel is that of an upscale 1970’s tile and glass diner with plenty of funk and do-wop music to match.?Ǭ Those few of us left who dug the Sha-na-na and Ricky Nelson will be transported back to a better time by the music and bright, clean decor.?Ǭ?Ǭ While the music may be reminiscent of “Grease” the food most definitely is not– The “Frissee and Crispy Calamari Orange Ginger Sesame Dressing” appetizer is light and sweetly spiced and made a great prelude to my Crazy Dog “Chopped Salad”.?Ǭ A patron choosing the “Chopped Salad” is given a wide choice of ingredients and each combination is different and individual.

The cafe menu consists of a choice of daily specials such as various types of premium fish, veal, chicken, turkey and beef prepared in elegant ways by Eric Rifkin, a Johnson & Wales trained master chef and co-owner.?Ǭ There are also popular stand-bys on the cafe menu, such as black angus steaks, lamb chops, grilled chicken and a vegetarian plate.

Those who like to do “FISH” may choose from Yellow Fin Tuna, Red Snapper, Mahi Mahi or Atlantic Salmon, cedar-planked, grilled or sauted with a choice of four (4) presentations of vegetables, potatoes, pasta, trimmings and sauces.

The desserts are homemade by Nicole November Rifkin, one of the owners and also a classically trained Johnson & Wales chef, who is truly accomplished in the art of pastry and dessert preparation and presentation.?Ǭ I suggest you do not leave the Crazy Dog cafe without experiencing one of the desserts. My favorite is the Warm Fallen Chocolate Souffle with vanilla ice cream.

If you won’t permit yourself a dessert because you are still trying to get back into your bell bottoms or peg pants of the not so recent past, the cafe presents an “Atkins Dinner” for you. No Classical Creme Brulee with Tahitian Vanilla Beans or Crazy Dog Sugared Donuts for you.

Since we ate in the cafe the first night, we had to return a second night to review the formal dining room, thus keeping my usual dinner companion out of her beloved kitchen once again.?Ǭ I am now going to turn the review over to her but I can say after finishing my meal in the formal dining room that she should have an easy job describing the joy of eating.

Since my dear husband seems to have left the 21st century for the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, when he had more hair and was probably at his peak, I am left alone in the 21st century so let’s go back to the future together and look at the main dining room menu.?Ǭ Like all classically trained chefs, Eric Rifkin changes the menu frequently to provide seasonal and fresh fare.?Ǭ On the night we ate in the formal dining room, the starters included Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Flatbread; Duck Breast Milanese Topped with Arugula, Pine Nuts, Tomato and Onion; Braised Long Stem Artichokes, White Beans, Oven Dried Tomatoes and a Parmesan Broth; Shrimp Cocktail and Hand Rolled Lobster Egg Roll.

I chose the Frissee and Crispy Calamari Orange Ginger Sesame Dressing but it was not an easy choice because there were so many appealing appetizers.?Ǭ?Ǭ It was, however, a truly delightful choice and I can recommend it without reservation.

The?Ǭ salads on the menu are:?Ǭ Bobbi Salad consisting of?Ǭ Grilled Shrimp, Green Beans, Tomato, Onion & Bacon; Hearts of Romaine with Creamy Garlic Dressing, Croutons & Shaved Reggiano; Crazy Dog Chopped Salad choice of three:?Ǭ Tomatoes, Onion, Cucumbers, Roasted Peppers & Parmesan, etc.; Arugula with Gold and Red Beets, Goat Cheese, Walnuts, and a Sweet Balsamic Dressing.

For a main course I chose Grilled Mahi Mahi with Soft

Corn Pudding and Oven Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from the fish menu, which is available both in the cafe as well as the dining room.?Ǭ The rest of the dining room menu on the evening we dined at the Crazy Dog included Grilled Sterling Sirloin, Homemade French Fries and Crispy Onions; Grilled Double Cut Lamb Chops, Parmesan and Black Pepper Mashed, Rosemary Jus; 1.25 lbs. Lobster Club B.L.T., Lemon Mayonnaise and Gaufrette Potatoes; Sauted Calf’s Liver and Bacon with Caramelized Apples and Onions; Giannone Farm Natural Chicken Stuffed with Rosemary and Lemon, Olives, Arugula, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Light Vinaigrette and Shoestring Potatoes; Sesame Crusted Tuna, Crunchy Spinach, Sticky Rice and Soy Ginger Sauce; Egg and Spinach Linguini with Pancetta, Onions, Peas, Cream and Reggiano; Sweet Potato Gnocci and 1.25 lbs. Lobster, Yellow Chantrelles, Shellfish, Broth, and Truffle Butter; Bamboo Steamed Vegetables, Sticky Rice and Dumplings with Chicken or Shrimp.

My Mahi Mahi was fresh and perfectly broiled. The accompaniments were exactly right and the perfect compliment for the white, flaky fish. This light and pleasing main plate set the stage perfectly for a small eater like myself to have dessert.?Ǭ I chose homebaked hot apple pie a la mode and found it to be worthy of Nicole’s reputation. After finishing a pair of excellent cappuccinos we headed for the door, and my long time dining companion told me he needed to ask me an important question. “Does your chewing gum loose its flavor on the bed post overnight?”?Ǭ I have no earthly idea what this question means.

The Crazy Dog has an award winning wine list with many affordable selections to please the most discerning palate.?Ǭ The decor in the main dining room is very contemporary, comfortable yet having a certain panache.?Ǭ The owners are crazy about dogs which may have something to do with the name of the establishment and the artwork reflects their love of dogs and is quite attractive and interesting.?Ǭ The contemporary stained glass work as you enter is a delight to the eye. The lighting however, leaves something to be desired as its bluish cast does very little to compliment my perfect complexion and that of the many other female diners who undoubtedly look better in sunlight or a more natural soft pink light which I would recommend to the owners.

All in all, Thom and I thoroughly enjoyed eating at the Crazy Dog because of the good food, cheerful ambiance, great service and the warmth and friendliness of both the owners and the staff.

We will be back perhaps frequently.

NEW MOON CAFE

Driving through East Quogue, look for the Texas flag and you will have found the “New Moon Cafe” — just the best little tex-mex house not in Texas. This restaurant is a south shore tradition for ribs and chicken since the Carter administration and still going strong.?Ǭ Truly an American family place where you can “kick back” and not worry if the kids are welcome because they are.

You will be greeted at the door by Ron Campsey (Ole Tex), the “oldest bus boy” in the Hamptons and father of eight (8) who has raised his own wait staff and is a truly warm and friendly man. You will immediately feel at home. The mother of the up and coming wait staff and Ron’s long time sidekick, Shana, runs the place and makes desserts so good that strong men weep and children clamor for more.

There is a full southwestern menu and a daily blackboard of specials — fish, pasta, steak American style, etc. — a full bar provides generous drinks and beer on tap.

On the evening we visited, tile fish was a special and mine was fresh and cooked to perfection; served with a medley of vegetables and mashed potatoes it was comfort food to soothe the mind and warm the belly. The perfect dish to follow my tomato, onion and avocado salad and precede a peach cobbler dessert as bright and light as a Texas sunrise.

On the other side of the table, a trio of enchiladas, one beef and cheese, one bean and cheese and one chicken and cheese appeared to the delight of my usual dinner companion and co-reviewer, who is clamoring to continue this narrative herself.

“Since I am so much more a delicate diner and generally more refined person than my husband, I prefer lighter fare and the New Moon enchiladas fit the bill for me. The combination of cheese, spices, beans and meat was enough to satisfy without bringing on that “sinking” feeling that often follows tex mex food — a glass of the house white and a small salad put me in the mood for some homemade cake.?Ǭ The cake Mom made with the help of Betty Crocker. The kind of cake that Shana makes so well, but did not make that day.

I think she should make one or two every day, so when you go to the New Moon ask for cake — American two (2) layer — yellow with chocolate icing or coconut, but ask for cake. Maybe she will learn what people want!! Particularly us delicate types — a nice wedge of light and fluffy homemade cake.

Like all members of his species (Martians), my husband fails to notice most of the important things about his surroundings. Since he completely neglected to discuss the menu in any meaningful detail, I guess the task falls to me, but then a woman’s work is never done.?Ǭ Dinner at the New Moon can start with a homemade soup of the day or an excellent chowder followed by an appetizer of mushrooms stuffed with sausage, nachos grande, jalapeno poppers (which are popular with the kids), clams casino or truly spicy buffalo wings.?Ǭ Along with the specials from which my favorite Martian chose tile fish, there is also a choice of barbecued chicken, ribs or brisket, marinated steak or catfish recently fished from a lazy Texas river. Many of the barbecued items are available as sandwiches, as are hamburgers, cheeseburgers and the like.

There is a children’s menu which includes chicken fingers, fish fingers, hot dogs and if your child will only eat peas and honey, Shana will probably provide them if you ask. Speaking of children they are both welcome and plentiful here so don’t be afraid to come early and bring as many of your well-behaved children as you wish.

Along with the sometimes appearance of homemade layer cake on the menu, the desserts also consist of Blondie’s (white brownies), homemade pies (pecan and banana creme), cobbler, ice cream,?Ǭ cheesecake and you can usually buy a box of Girl Scout cookies from one of Shana and Ron’s younger daughters.

The decor which is never noticed by Martians is funky and down home with a southwestern, East Quogue twist. There are both tables and booths. In summer, the flowers both on the grounds and in the window boxes facing Montauk Highway are truly wonderful.

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | the Hamptons

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