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“A Quickie Guide to the North Fork”
I’ve written much about the North Fork of Long Island over the years both for New York magazine and this blog. I love the wines, cherish the peace of the bays and beaches, and appreciate the great food without the maddening scene of the Other Fork.
On a recent weekend with friends I had a few memorable meals and wines.
The food is still wonderful at the North Fork Table and Inn, as is the service. You’ll recall that this American restaurant and inn is run by NYC restaurant vets Claudia Fleming and Gerry Hayden (she of Gramercy Tavern fame and he of Aureole) and Mary and Mike Mraz (she of Gramercy Tavern and he of Hearth) who keep the front of the house humming smoothly. The menu is pretty flawless, but make sure to have the crudo appetizer, the duck and the beef duo entrees, and don’t miss the banana and coffee ice cream sandwich or the strawberry and rhubarb shortcake for dessert. A stop at the Lunch Truck out back is a great idea if you’re looking for picnic fare to bring along to one of the wineries or beaches. Or just grab one of their Adirondack chairs under a shady old Elm tree in their backyard.
Luce & Hawkins is the other culinary contender on the North Fork. The restaurant is located in the Jedediah Hawkins Inn, a majestically restored 1863 home that once belonged to Captain Jedediah Hawkins, and contains several handsome dining rooms as well as a glassed in greenhouse for almost al fresco eating. Our favorites on Chef Keith Luce’s menu were the NOFO duck wings, the shrimp and lobster meatballs, and a surprising burger with bacon and onion jam that would have even the biggest burger snob on their knees in worship.
Relative newcomer Noah’s, on Main Street in Greenport, is also worth a visit. Chef Noah Schwartz's menu is heavy on local seafood, but we also enjoyed hanger steak, some lovely oversized salads, and a terrific lemony fritto misto that included calamari, long beans, zucchini, scallops and shrimp. It’s certainly not fine dining along the lines of Luce or North Fork Table, but it’s a good option for something a bit more casual and gently priced. There's a nice bar, too, if you’re looking to dine there.
I also recently discovered Mali B, an elegant bakery and sweets shop also on Main Street in Greenport. There you’ll find precious little cookies like vanilla ginger sables, fluted cupcakes displayed on glass pedestals along with jam-filled thumbprints, thin mints, as well as sky high wedding cakes adorned with flowers, ruffles, and frills, and homemade chocolate bars filled with the likes of black pepper and dark cherries wrapped in gorgeous printed papers.
If you feel like a light lunch, check in at Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck. It's a sweet local spot that feels like a diner from long ago with a menu loaded up with crowd-pleasers. Go for a big salad (their Mediterranean is my favorite), or a fresh sandwich (chicken, guacamole and bacon is divine), or eggs, french toast, pancakes and the like. The new Love Lane Market offers a butcher shop, a rotisserie, a bakery and lots more local and artisan goodies for your enjoyment. Across the street at the Village Cheese shop, you can pick up a few cheeses, along with all the fixins: breads, olives, and nuts for a picnic lunch.
In terms of wine drinking, you’ll want to sample the Pinot Blanc at Lieb Cellars, the Merlot at Shinn Vineyards, the Rose at Croteaux (their tasting garden is wildly beautiful), and the Riesling, the Cab Franc, and the Chenin Blanc at Paumanok (where you can picnic on their wide patio overlooking the vines). I tend to also like the wines at Corey Creek and Jamesport too but didn’t have a chance to visit this time around.
As for where to stay, check out this piece from a previous edition of The Strong Buzz.
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