This past weekend Jim and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary (That’s right, another year! We still got it!) on the North Fork of Long Island. We rented a fun PT Cruiser to take in the scenery: farm stands selling strawberries, rhubarb, and greens; charming Victorian homes mixed in with newer, more suburban models; leafy trees shading the narrow roads; farms, wineries, and watery marshes. In addition to all this relaxing exploration, we also had two wonderful meals at area restaurants.
The North Fork Table and Inn: With its white walls and tablecloths, hardwood floors, and individual flower pots of herbs atop each table, The North Fork Table and Inn presents a modern yet rustic atmosphere for a special, celebratory meal. Like many of the nearby establishments, this restaurant supports the local farms and fishing communities of the North Fork whenever possible, and also showcases Long Island’s up-and-coming wines. I started with an assortment of roasted baby beets ($14). A medley of yellow, pink, and red beets were smoothly tossed with goat cheese from the Catapano Dairy Farm, as well as crunchy, salty pistachios and a sherry vinegar dressing, creating a intriguing interplay of textures and flavors. My main dish of lavender-seasoned California squab ($34) didn’t overwhelm me with lavender flavors, but the dense meat was sweetly enhanced by fresh figs, tart belgian endives, and a delicate white turnip purée. Jim’s duo of beef ($38), a roasted strip loin and a shortrib streudel, was one of the most creative entrées of this type he’d ever had. For dessert we shared comforting sugar and spice doughnuts, dipping each into warm cinnamon cream ($10) while I finished my glass of Pinot Noir from Castello di Borghese, one of the few wineries we had missed during our afternoon tour. The most embarrassing moment of the evening (because there always has to be one) occurred when our kind waitress, noticing my barely-hidden notepad, offered me a menu as a souvenir. Later on, when I was away from the table, she asked Jim if I was a chef. His reply: “No, she just really enjoys her food and likes to remember it.” And it’s true. 57225 Main Road in Southold, New York 11971 631-765-0177
The Frisky Oyster: Since most out-of-towners desert the North Fork by Sunday night, Jim and I pretty much had the dining room of The Frisky Oyster to ourselves. The low-key lighting, soft, brown banquettes, and abstract raspberry wallpaper, combined with a modern, slightly techno music soundtrack, impart a sleek feel to this Greenport favorite. Mexican and Asian accents influence the restaurant’s contemporary American menu, and help celebrate Long Island’s natural bounty. We started with the tuna tacos ($14), sparkling with the addition of crunchy shaved papaya. The piping hot heirloom tomato fondue with warm goat cheese ($13) had us dipping all the toasted ciabatta we could find and more. My seared sea scallops ($27) went wonderfully with its tangy pea shoot salad, as well as my glass of Channing Daughters Sauvignon Blanc, but the accompanying spring pea risotto cake was a little too heavy for my taste. Jim’s penne pasta with tasso ham, spring peas, and scallions ($24) was both bacony and spicy, his favorite combination of flavors. We ended the meal with a refreshing vanilla bean semifreddo and macerated strawberries, and wondered what to make of the macerated fruit trend we had encountered throughout the weekend. It had appeared the night before as well, in the form of macerated apricots. What was going on here on the North Fork? 27 Front Street in Greenport, New York 11944 631-477-4265