Sometimes you can have a meticulously planned, military-operation-level of preparation ready for a formal dinner party, and then it all goes ‘Pete Tong’ right before your very eyes.
Your guests are hungover and still recovering from the night before, you’ve realized there aren’t enough dining chairs, and there’s an overall total disregard for you (the chef’s) schedule. This can really put a damper on what you thought was going to be an elegant, 5-course-black-tie-sit-down-dinner in the Hamptons. But just because it’s not Gatsby doesn’t mean it’s a disaster, as we recently discovered.
This past weekend we were going to throw our hosts and some friends a special black tie dinner party in their beautiful house in Watermill, when our plans literally went sideways. People “forgot” their tuxedos and were still in beach gear at 6pm—with no rush to change into proper cocktail attire. So instead of throwing a tantrum and forcing the issue, we decided to retreat and regroup. The new plan still involved a special cocktail and canapé for sunset, and instead of a sit-down dinner, we served everything family-style in front of the fireplace.
If your friends don’t feel like dressing up, just dress up the food and make it a party!
Cocktail hour: Aperol Spritz + Lobster canapé
While our friends were soaking in the hot tub and lounging around on the patio chatting it up, we served them some sunset inspired Aperol spritz alongside a charcuterie platter and some fabulous lobster salad canapés. The addition of lobster to any dinner party will instantly turn the night into a special occasion. “Ooh! lobster!” “fancy!” “yes!” People will immediately feel special and worthy, and conversations will turn more high brow (you hope).
Appetizer: Grilled Clams with garlic butter and crusty bread
As the evening progressed, our guests started to congregate in the living area, so we served up a big bowl of classic grilled clams with garlic butter, which paired nicely with crisp rosé and sancere.
Mains: Roasted Wild Striped Bass, Grilled Cowboy Rib-Eye Steaks with potato pureé & caramelized onions
Sides: Panzanella salad and Grilled Corn with lime
Dinner was served on the countertop in large platters. We were still able to add some ‘Park Avenue’ touches in the presentation: sliced rib eye steaks were garnished with rosemary, sea salt and caramelized onions; and the striped bass was served with herb butter, microgreens and Himalayan pink sea salt. Having some little candles scattered on the counter and oversized coffee table kept the party atmosphere going. Success!
The Result? A casual evening where the food was tasty, and everyone was happily sloshed and fed. The best part was that we were still able to sneak in some black tie DineGirl touches. Proof that even if things do go a little haywire and off the grid, you can still end up somewhere fabulous.