The North Fork Tasting Room, which opened last month, is more than just a place to sample the finest wine, beer and food the region has to offer, it’s also Chef Frederick Terry Sr.’s personal culinary playground.
“It’s more of ‘Fred’s Laboratory’ than it is a North Fork Tasting Room,” Terry said. “I’ve been in this business for over 45 years, and I’d like to play now.” Terry opened the Lobster Roll Restaurant in Amagansett, also known as “Lunch,” with his father in 1965. Then, after a long career as a college professor, he opened the Lobster Roll Northside and Gingerbread Academy in Baiting Hollow in 1999, across the road from his family farm.
The North Fork Tasting Room is his newest endeavor, and it occupies the 100-year-old barn that sits just behind the Lobster Roll Northside Restaurant. “I decided to renovate it and turn it into something very ‘countrified’,” he said.
“We’re kind of becoming an information source for the North Fork, and a one-stop shop for directing people to the smaller boutique wineries,” Terry said. “The wineries are very happy with us because, of course, we’re using their wine, but also our tasting room card has the Long Island wine map on it, so they go from here, very often, to the wineries to buy a case of wine.”
The North Fork Tasting Room carries wine from many Long Island wineries, giving visitors a chance to compare them side by side, unlike most tasting rooms that only offer their own label. “I really like the idea that I can promote the smaller boutique enterprises,” Terry said. “Somebody came in and tasted a chardonnay from a very small boutique winery, and the guy went down there and bought the entire production!” he said. “That’s exactly the kind of thing I anticipated would happen here.”
Although they offer many North Fork wines, and nearly all of Long Island’s artisanal beers, 12 of which are on tap, it’s only part of what Terry has in mind. “For me, this is as much about food.” he said. “People think I’m nuts, because I’m constantly walking through that bar with food, giving it away, and I’m having great fun with it.”
Over the years, Terry has built up a stockpile of recipes and ideas that he’s been waiting to try, and he’s always looking for people to sample them. “Our most popular item, right now, is a smoked-duck flatbread with Catapano goat cheese and local sweet peppers,” he said. “It is to die for.” Terry is currently perfecting his new Lobster Turnover, which consists of lobster meat with a compound-herbed-butter inside a pastry crust, served as an empanada. “They’re baked, not fried.”
The North Fork Tasting Room will feature live music and cooking events throughout the fall and winter, but Terry wants to keep things modest. “I’m not interested in becoming a bar, I’m keeping it deliberately small.” he said. “The average person is trying to self-promote themselves to death, and I’m way past that. I’m in a different place than most people, and I’m very blessed that I’m there.”
The North Fork Tasting Room, 3225 Sound Avenue, Riverhead, in the Lobster Roll Restaurant Complex. www.northforktastingroom.com.