Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The North Fork Table & Inn: Long Island

Besides providing some winery recommendations, Lenn of Lenndevours also recommended a restaurant to me on Long Island, the North Fork Table & Inn. After checking their menu online, I decided to make reservations. And the restaurant did not disappoint in the least.

The North Fork Table focuses on seasonally creations featuring locally grown biodynamic and organic produce, fresh seafood from the Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound and North Fork artisanal cheese. Their staff includes Executive Chef Gerry Haden, Pastry Chef, Claudia Fleming, Beverage Director Mike Mraz and Mary Mraz.

The restaurant offers a classy but homey ambiance, the type of experience you expect from a fine inn. They generally sat people away from each other, giving each table a bit more privacy, which is nice.

The restaurant has a full bar, including some of their own special cocktails such as the Desdemona (Prosecco, Strawberry Sorbet and Rose water) and Scott's Super Delicious Plus (house-infused Vanilla Vodka, fresh Grapefruit Juice and Gingerale). They also have beers, including some New York brews, and non-alcoholic drinks.

Their wine list is very impressive with its diversity, including wines from lesser common regions such as Morocco, Slovenia and Uruguay. They also carry a fair share of Long Island wines as well. For a wine lover, you may have difficulty choosing which wine to order as so many will tempt you. Bottles prices generally start at $40, with only a few below that price. They have fifteen wines available by the glass, in either a three or six ounce pour. Six ounce pours range from $8-$15. This is a wine list compiled by someone passionate about wine, someone who enjoys going beyond the safe zone to try new things.

There were so many wines I wanted to try that we decided to order glasses rather than a bottle. The 2008 Niel Joubert Chenin Blanc ($9/6 oz) from Paarl, South Africa was a pleasant choice. It was a crisp, light wine with plenty of delicious citrus flavors. The Oyama Ginsuika "Silver Water" Junmai Ginjo Sake ($11/3 oz) was excellent, a light and silky smooth Sake with subtle fruit and hints of floral notes. This is a Sake that would please even someone new to Sake and I would highly recommend it. The 2005 Borghese Pinot Noir ($15/6 oz) is from the North Fork of Long Island. It is a Burgundian style Pinot, more subtle and a touchy earthy over subdued berry flavors. Another excellent wine.

I also tried the 2006 Thalvin-Graillot Syrocco Syrah ($10/6 oz) from Rommani, Morocco. This is the first wine from Morocco that I have ever had and when I saw it on the wine list, I knew I had to taste it. The wine is made from 100% Syrah grown in the Zenata region of Morocco. The wine maker was Alain Graillot, of Crozes-Hermitage fame, who came upon the vineyards while bicycling. Alain started a relationship with the domaine who owned the vineyards, Domaine des Ouled Thaleb. As expected, this was a very Rhone style wine, more restrained with subtler berry flavors, hints of spice and a touch of earthiness. The tannins were mild and it had a moderatly long finish. A very good wine that you could easily confuse with a French Rhone.

As for the dinner menu, you can order off the menu or select their tasting menu. As we were a bit short on time, we decided to just order off the menu. Appetizers range from $12-25 and Entrees from $34-42. The cuisine is creative American, with plenty of diverse and interesting options. Foodies will love the available choices and it was difficult to decide which items to order.

Prior to our first course arriving, we received warm, fresh bread with soft butter. An excellent start and the bread was quite delicious. For appetizers, we chose the Local Krupski's White Sweet Corn Soup with Truffled Polenta Agnolotti and White Truffle Essence ($15) and the Crisp Cod & Yukon Gold Potato Cakes with Truffled Tartar Sauce and Micro Herb Salad ($15). The Corn soup was delicious, creamy and sweet. There were several agnolotti in the soup, light pillows of tasty polenta. The three cod and potato cakes were thick with a nice, crispy exterior and stuffed full of lightly salted cod and potato. Another excellent appetizer.

Our entrees included a Roasted Dayboat Harpooned Atlantic Swordfish with Shiitake Mushrooms, Baby Bok Choy, Pea Shoots, Crisp Fingerling Potatoes and a Carrot-Ginger Purée ($36) and a California Farm Raised Rabbit Two Ways, a Loin wrapped in Bacon and a Picholine Olive Sausage, atop creamy Polenta and Ratatouille ($33). The swordfish was cooked perfectly, leaving it moist, tender and flavorful. It was a good-sized piece of fish with plenty of fresh veggies on the side. The rabbit was also quite delicious, especially the sausage slices. The sausage slices had plenty of flavor and were tender, without any tough, gristly fillers. The polenta was also quite good, very creamy with a nice corn flavor.

For dessert, we had a Pear & Chocolate Tart ($12) and the Warm Sugar & Spice Donuts ($12). The sweet pears were atop a very moist and rich chocolate cake, in a pastry shell, and they paired together well. None of that was left on the plate. The donuts were a stack of 10 warm donut holes. 10!! I could not believe there were so many. They came with a vanilla-based dipping sauce and the donuts were absolutely delicious, light and sweet. I could not finish them all though so took several for the ride back.

Service was very good, professional and attentive. Overall, I was very pleased with our dining experience. The restaurant is a bit pricey but I think the type of ingredients and quality of the food justifies their prices. This is a place that should impress you. From the diversity of their wine list, to their varied menu options, there is something here for everyone. I am glad that I dined here and would recommend it to others as well.

North Fork Table & Inn
57225 Main Road
Southold, NY
Phone: 631-765-0177

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