The behind-the-hedges secret to entertaining like a millionaire at affordable prices? Swifty’s, the clubby Manhattan restaurant that is synonymous with the Fortune 500 crowd, now caters in the Hamptons.
Its East End roster is all very hush hush. But walk into Swifty’s on any given night and you’re liable to rub shoulders with Sienna Miller, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Christine Baranski, Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw or Rene Zellweger (with People magazine on her tail). Other notable clients include astronaut Neil Armstrong and racer Lance Armstrong, in the days when he wanted to impress Tori Burch.
The regulars are a discreet bunch. Nancy Kissinger is one of many who took over the backroom for a private party. Other social fixtures include Patricia Kluge, Avis Rent-a-Car widow Yanna Avis, Barbara Taylor Bradford, and Carol Petrie.
Swifty’s is heir to Mortimer’s, immortalized by the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Truman Capote and Nan Kempner. When it closed, chef Stephen Attoe and former maitre d’ Robert Caravaggi (seen here) opened the bistro-type restaurant down the block to give the crowd a place to go. They kept the signature dishes -- crab cakes, burgers, curried chicken salad -- that is old money comfort food.
Or, as Director of Swifty’s Events, Jay Jolly calls it: “American continental with savoir faire.” Jolly, a man whose business seems to fulfill his name’s destiny, came to Swifty’s nine years ago after 25 years at Glorious Foods.
Swiftys also kept its prices down. In the season, patrons come several times a week. In the summer, they go to the Hamptons. In their beachfront mansions and estate homes, they throw private dinners for 50 and cocktail receptions for 500. They want Swifty’s to cater.
“Our food lends itself to a summer environment: cold poached lobster out of shell with corn pudding, for example,” says Jolly. "In the catering business, people prefer the familiar to mystery food. Of course, we adapt to each situation to make it a bit unique: delicious lamb with interesting spices, rare grilled tuna with wasabi on a thin risotto cake, a Mexican-inspired buffet with our version of a baby burrito, grilled jumbo coconut shrimp with plum sauce. But it’s all based on the framework of what Swifty’s does and is known for.”
Is anyone else’s mouth watering?