The much awaited EMP Summer House opened this weekend, and we got an inside look at it all with Eleven Madison Park chef Daniel Humm himself. We caught up with him on the restaurant’s patio, where he told us all about how the EMP in the Hamptons came to be.
“We were renovating Eleven Madison Park for the summer,” said Humm, who co-owns the world’s No. 1 best restaurant with Will Guidara. “We thought: What are we going to do with our team for four months? They’ve been with us for 11 years. Without our team, we have nothing.”
Humm and Guidara considered doing an international pop-up—“even in Switzerland,” says Humm, who hails form the country—but they couldn’t shake the fact that EMP has New York DNA. “We kept thinking: What do New Yorkers do in the summer?” Humm says. “They go to the Hamptons.”
The pair decided to do the same.
Thus, East Hampton’s EMP Summer House was born, in partnership with American Express. A five-minute drive from downtown East Hampton on Montauk Highway, the venue is a sprawling ode to surfside dining where men dressed in Nantucket red pants and women in colorful flowing caftans mix with kids running around in t-shirts and shorts.
“We always think about what we’d want in a restaurant,” Humm says. “In the city, for example, Eleven Madison Park is the fine dining restaurant we’d want, whereas Made Nice is the quick and casual one. So we thought, ‘What’s the restaurant we’d want in the Hamptons?’”
The pair’s dream Hamptons restaurant-turned-reality has three distinct areas, each with a decidedly post-beach vibe—meaning there’s no $295 tasting menu here. The indoor dining room, which has an elegant black-and-white-tiled pizza oven (“Try the flatbread,” recommends Humm), is a touch more formal with an a la carte menu featuring dishes such as prawn salad with sorrel and fluke ceviche with cucumber and radish. A lounge area by the bar decorated with white couches with blue pillows and The Beach Boys vinyl records leads to a covered patio where diners can order casual fare such as lobster rolls on buttery buns and Humm’s famous truffle-spiked hot dog.
Outside is a whole different scene outfitted with white picnic tables, yellow-and-white umbrellas, twinkly lights, and lawn games like bocce ball and blue-and-pink EMP Ping-Pong tables custom-made by Los Angeles-based 11 Ravens.
“All this out here,” Humm says, “is much more laidback.” The picnic area is where diners can feast on lobster boils—think clams, shrimp, Andouille sausage, potatoes, corn, summer vegetables, parker house rolls, tomato salad, and pie—or opt for a large-format fried chicken menu. Meanwhile, drinks from Humm and Guidara’s NoMad Bar—like the off-menu Hot Lips (jalapeno-infused blanco tequila, mescal, vanilla, pineapple, lemon, cane syrup)—keep the party going.
Many diners who attended the EMP Summer House’s opening then moseyed over to American Express’s one-weekend-only SoulCycle pop-up in Southampton on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It was here, in an open-air studio with a string ceiling designed by artist Eric Riege, that SoulCycle master instructor and Platinum Collective member Stacey Griffith gave a special shout-out to those who had stayed out too late the night before—presumably at the EMP Summer House, of course.
The EMP Summer House is open exclusively to American Express Card Members; dinner reservations are required for the dining room, but otherwise walk-in guests are welcome. For more information on American Express’s By Invitation Only events in the Hamptons this summer open only to America Express card members—including a Fourth of July carnival-themed celebration—visit americanexpress.com/byinvitationonly or call 800-321-7787.