Southampton’s dining scene is about to have a touch of new flavor added to it.
Union Cantina is set to open in Southampton at the end of the month. David Hilty and Ian Duke, owners of the Southampton Social Club, have teamed up with award-winning chef Scott Kampf to bring fine Mexican cuisine to the community. The restaurant will open at 40 Bowden Square, which was formerly the longtime home of Southampton Publick House. The restaurant will be open year round for lunch and dinner, featuring a bottomless brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
The idea for the restaurant came from a simple observation, Mr. Duke explained.
“About a year ago, Chef Scott and I started talking about it because, quite frankly, there was a very small amount of Mexican food in Southampton,” he said. “It’s actually true through Bridgehampton, Quogue and Hampton Bays. I’m a believer in having many kinds of cuisines and the key is to have the most sought-after one for a restaurant. We talked to people and noticed that when people would ask, ‘Where do you go for good Mexican?’ a lot of people just didn’t have an answer.”
Mr. Duke said that he and Mr. Kampf paid close attention to the dining scenes around the Hamptons. From their research and surveying of the public came the idea for Union Cantina. They got the property on Bowden Square in early May after spending the past year preparing the menu items, the concept of the restaurant, and the alcohol program. Mr. Duke admits there’s difficulty in the entire process.
“You can’t come up with everything in advance. What you do is come up with a storyline for the restaurant. I’m a big believer in a story for a restaurant. Once you have your venue, you apply your story to it. Whatever the venue has to offer, you adapt your story to it. We picked the Publick House for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is the amazing outdoor presence of this 110-year-old building. It’s a mainstay building and a central area for good visuals and for the community.”
Mr. Duke has high hopes for the Union Cantina. On top of bringing Mexican cuisine to Southampton and adding more variety to the dining scene, he hopes that the restaurant becomes a place for residents to visit and connect with each other. Evidence of that can be found in the name.
“We named it Union Cantina for a variety of reasons,” Mr. Duke said. “First and foremost, much like Social Club, we’re big believers in trying to promote community, bringing people together, that’s what it’s all about. We learned a lot while developing this. For example, the color red in the Mexican flag represents the union of all the Mexican people when it became liberated.”
A signature menu item of Union Cantina will be Mr. Kampf’s deconstructed enchiladas. Instead of rolled flour tortillas, he uses layered toasted tortillas. Patrons have the option of trying the dish filled with skirt steak ($18), striped bass ($18), spicy shrimp ($17), pulled chicken ($17) or vegetables ($17). There will also be a wide variety of tacos and quesadillas offered on Union Cantina’s menu, along with frozen drinks.
“We’re just hoping to knock this one out of the park and make a fun restaurant for the community,” Mr. Duke said.
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