You're surrounded by well-dressed patrons having a great time. The drinks are big, and so are the portions. The atmosphere sizzles like the steaks cooking for you on the grill in the kitchen. The waiter's a pro, and you've been seated by Andrew Tobin, the manager/maître d’, who's young, handsome, and really knows what he's doing. The tables are all well-spaced, and the lighting is perfect.
What could possibly go wrong? Nothing! Because The Palm is a model of consistency with a core philosophy that states, "Treat guests like family, serve great food, and always exceed expectations."
It's summer in East Hampton, there are loads of hot new restaurants, but the veteran on the block, The Palm, has the longest waiting line. The Palm started in 1926 in New York City as an Italian restaurant whose immigrant founders wanted to name it "Parma," but because of linguistic confusion the place became "The Palm." How did it evolve into the classic American Steakhouse that it is? When a customer would ask for steak in those long-ago days, the chef would run up the block to the butcher shop. Today The Palm, with twenty-two establishments in the U.S. and Mexico, has five men working full time every day selecting prime beef, which they age in a process designed to maximize the meat's moisture.
There are seven different meat selections on the menu, including New York strip, filet mignon, Prime double cut New York strip, bone-in rib eye, and double cut lamb chops. Nightly specials frequently include veal chops and and twenty-four ounce bone-in porterhouse. The chef, Victor Tapia, does steaks brilliantly, and the quality of the meat is a big part of The Palm's success.
They offer their headline-making three and four pound lobsters, and you can add a half lobster to any steak order for the signature Palm surf and turf.
For the purposes of this column, I dined at The Palm on several occasions to explore the other options on their menu. I was not disappointed.
The soul of The Palm, as stated, is Italian. Without question, the deep, rich satisfying veal marsala, prepared with tender medallions of veal, in a chicken stock, Marsala wine, demi-glace and a touch of butter, was the single best plate of veal marsala I've ever had. The chicken parmigiana was high quality chicken with a perfect proportion of red sauce and cheese. Loved it.
I found the Chilean sea bass to be a perfectly cooked piece of fresh, sweet fish. The corn relish that accompanies the sea bass is an inventive compliment. It's that time of year for the best corn and the relish reflected that. You can't go wrong with the massive shrimp cocktail, with its fiery hot cocktail sauce and the briny flavor of the best shrimp a restaurant can buy. Likewise for the wonderfully satisfying jumbo lump crab cakes that are served with chipotle tartar sauce and mango salsa.
I love the sharable sides offered at the restaurant, particularly the Brussels sprouts with shallots and lemon zest and the green beans with pancetta, pepper flakes, and pine nuts. If you need some carbs and plan to burn off some calories by exercising the next day, try the three cheese potatoes au gratin. Wow!
From the salad line up, I like the complexity of the Louis "Gigi" Delmaestro Salad with its shrimp, green beans, tomato, onion, bacon, iceberg lettuce, red pepper, egg, and avocado tossed in garlic vinaigrette. They also serve a classic Caesar salad, which is good to see, since Caesar Salad has taken on many lives and bizarre identities since it was first created by Caesar Cardini in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1924.
My favorite dessert at The Palm is the flourless chocolate cake, which I requested with vanilla ice cream and a small cup of chocolate sauce.
The Palm in East Hampton serves wonderful food amidst the glamour and excitement of The Hamptons.
The restaurant is open all year, and in the winter, the bar, with its booths and high top tables is one of the hottest spots on the East End. There’s also a weekday special at the bar, where certain items are half price between 5 and 7 pm. Please tell Andrew Tobin we sent you.