Haute Secrets: How to Dine Like an Insider in the Hamptons

RE BasnightLandscape
Kirk Basnight

Restaurateur Kirk Basnight is well-known on the East End for bringing a huge helping of Southern hospitality to the Hamptons dining scene. Hailing from Virginia, Basnight treats his patrons like long-lost friends, which many in fact do become (or rather, new friends). Basnight helms Southampton favorites little|red and redbar, a classic French-style brasserie. Both recently went through revamps. This summer, Basnight added Executive Chef Todd Jacobs, an East End star who won raves at Fresh for his locally sourced cuisine, to the team.

How long have you been in the Hamptons? 25 years

Favorite Hampton or special place in the Hamptons: My favorite place is on a boat on Peconic Bay. I grew up on the water—it’s the most peaceful place I know. I love to spend the day water skiing and then head to Shelter Island for lunch.

How have the Hamptons changed in the last five years? Southampton Village has really come to life again. People have returned post-recession, new restaurants and shops have opened up. It’s been great to watch the scene grow.

Best time of day in the Hamptons: 4 p.m. It’s my time between the hustle of lunch and the bustle of dinner when I can relax in my rose garden with friends and family and recharge before going back to both restaurants.

Favorite beach: Towd Point Beach. I stop there every morning.

Best Farmers Markets: Tate’s. Everyone knows Kathleen’s Cookies, but her Dad also has a farmers market and it’s my favorite. I also like to hit up Southampton’s Farmers Market on the weekends. And of course, my own vegetable garden too!

Secret for beating summer traffic: Stay home.

Favorite sources for bread in the Hamptons: Blue Duck Bakery on the North Fork.

Favorite sources for cheeses in the Hamptons: Cavaniola’s Sag Harbor Cheese Shop.

Favorite sources for fish in the Hamptons: Here, I must admit I cheat a little bit. Todd Jacobs and Bobby Abrams go to a lot of trouble to source the best from local fishermen and I raid the walk-in. There are some perks to owning a couple of restaurants! For everyone else, I’d recommend hitting up Citarella. Nobody knows seafood like Joe Guerra.


Beside your own restaurants, what is your favorite spot for….

BrunchSalt Waterfront Bar and Grill on Shelter Island. Love the husband and wife (Alison Bevilacqua and Keith Bavaro). They make a great team. And the chef Darren Boyle is a total foodie.

Dinner (French or Italian): Sant Ambroeus.

Bar: Sunset Beach on Shelter Island. Best view, hands down.

Best places to party: This southern gentleman stays in on his nights off.

For out-of-town guests, which hotel do you recommend? Barron’s Cove.

Best gym/athletic spot in the area: Southampton Gym.

Where do you like to shop for clothes? Tenet.

Favorite charity: Southampton Day Care Center; they do so much for this wonderful town that I call home! (Shameless plug—I’m on the board.)

Favorite galleries: Parrish Art Museum.

Describe the Hamptons in three words:  Home, Peconic, Blue.

What is the secret to your success? My motto is that no matter what happens in life , if you’re good then you win.