The blackboard showcases the daily menu. VALERIE GORDON
Sandra Sadowski welcomes customers through the door. VALERIE GORDON
The dining room seats up to 64 guests. VALERIE GORDON
It's time to dredge the chicken in flour. VALERIE GORDON
The chicken is ready for the deep fryer. VALERIE GORDON
Arielle Ferrara mixes the cabbage with Hamptons Farms special sauce to create their signature coleslaw side. VALERIE GORDON
Arielle Ferrara cups the homemade coleslaw. VALERIE GORDON
Breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top of the bacon mac and cheese. VALERIE GORDON
The fried chicken is ready to come out of the deep fryer. VALERIE GORDON
Arielle Ferrara plates the fried chicken. VALERIE GORDON
The bartender makes a martini. VALERIE GORDON
A new restaurant with an ever-changing menu has planted its roots in East Quogue, despite the site’s unsuccessful past.
The barn-style building on the corner of Old Country Road and Montauk Highway has changed hands many times. Most recently it was home to Station, a seasonal and rustic restaurant renowned for its zucchini and fennel salad—but it closed its doors more than two years ago and has sat vacant ever since.
Some customers have even referred to the location on Yelp, a popular rating website, as “doomed.”
But that’s not a problem for new owner Sandra Sadowski, who bought the 1,844-square-foot building for $850,000 in August after falling in love with its rustic open floor plan and wrap-around porch.
She said the building matched her vision perfectly. After a few aesthetic upgrades and some minor deck repairs, she opened her doors in early October serving brunch, lunch and dinner six days a week, closing only on Tuesdays. She called her masterpiece Hamptons Farms.
“I really wanted to create a place where local people who are working can come and have lunch in a warm inviting environment,” Ms. Sadowski said.
The concept behind every meal is fresh ingredients, no artificial colors, hormones, or pesticides. She explained that all of the ingredients used in her comfort food are purchased from local farms such as Densieski Farm in East Quogue and Koppert Cress, USA in Cutchogue. All of the meat and fish is bought from local butcheries and fish markets like Gosman Seafood in Montauk.
The 41-year-old entrepreneur is confident that her restaurant is here to stay. She said its ever-changing menu will keep it fresh and new even for regular customers like Chris Bougatsos of East Quogue who has dined at the restaurant four times since it opened in early October. He added that “the lamb ragout is amazing.”
“We change the menu based on what’s available,” Ms. Sadowski said. “If I can’t get a fresh piece of fish, we won’t have it on the menu.”
Although the menu will continually change, the lamb ragout along with the strip steak, burger, and the restaurant’s signature dish—fried chicken, served with a side of homemade bacon mac-and-cheese and coleslaw—will be available every day.
“We have a lot of integrity when it comes to our ingredients and to be true to who we are,” Ms. Sadowski said.
To be true to who she is, Ms. Sadowski recollected her childhood. Growing up in a Polish family, living on 12 acres in Kinderhook, she would harvest vegetables from her family’s 20-foot-by-100-foot garden and pick apples and peaches from the trees growing there, all while her father would hunt in the backyard and butcher the deer before dinner.
“That’s how I lived my whole life,” she said. “I can’t imagine eating another way.”
She noted that the opportunity to purchase the restaurant was a great way to get back to her roots. After working for more than 20 years in hospitality-related positions for the Plaza Hotel in New York City and Baha Mar, a luxury resort in the Bahamas, she was ready for a change. She said owning a restaurant allows her to make her own schedule based on her family’s needs.
“I never thought in a million years that I would own a restaurant, not that I didn’t want to,” Ms. Sadowski said. “I’m thrilled that I am. Every day is a new learning experience.”
Ms. Sadowski isn’t the only one learning new things. She said owning her own restaurant offers her the chance to teach her four children—Grayson, 5, Lilliana, 6, Sebastian, 8, and Marec, 11—about the importance of healthy eating.
“Being able to teach them dining etiquette and showing them how our menu changes has been really fun,” Ms. Sadowski said.
She went on to say that at least three times a week her children are at the restaurant helping set the tables for dinner, and even doing their homework in the U-shaped cozy nook located to the left of the dining room, which Ms. Sadowski said is her favorite spot in the entire restaurant.
Oftentimes there are table games like tic-tac-toe and Connect Four piled high across the wood-grain farmhouse table in the corner nook, but it’s also a great place to read a book, or enjoy her favorite menu item—the Farro Bowl, composed of farro, butternut squash, tomatoes, arugula, and two poached eggs—paired with a glass of red wine, Ms. Sadowski said.
That feeling of comfort, between the comfortable places to sit and the rustic comfort food, rubs off on Ms. Sadowski’s employees as well.
“It feels like you’re walking into someone’s house for dinner,” employee Danielle Rivera said. She added that as soon as she walked into the building, built in 1978, she knew she “had” to work there.
“Everything is made with a lot of love,” executive chef Arielle Ferrara added.
Customers like Lucy Elizabeth of Quiogue seem to reciprocate, praising the staff for their “friendly service.”
“The food is delicious,” Ms. Elizabeth said after sharing the shishito pepper with her friends Chris Bougatsos and Emily Florence of East Quogue. Ms. Florence added that the pepper was “nicely smokey and not too spicy. It was amazing,” she said.
As for Ms. Sadowski there are no signs of her closing her doors anytime soon. In fact she plans to open them for breakfast starting in December. The breakfast menu will follow the same ever-changing guidelines as the brunch and dinner menus.
“Business has been great,” Ms. Sadowski said, adding that she often fills the 64-person dining room three or four times over every Saturday. “Looking at the dining room now, it’s half full,” she said on a Monday around noon.
She is grateful for the restaurant’s fall opening, explaining that it was a smart decision because it allows her to play around with the menu and put finishing touches on things.
“When May comes, we will have found the best formula for our restaurant,” she said.
Hamptons Farms is located at 412 Montauk Highway, East Quogue, and open Wednesdays through Mondays. For more information, visit hamptonsfarms.com or call 631-856-4080.
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