Dining out for Valentine’s Day and you want to make it extra special? Well, according to a lot of folks North Fork Table & Inn is the best restaurant on Long Island. It’s certainly a contender in my book. Husband-and-wife chefs Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming weave local bounty into dishes that have garnered them an international reputation for excellence.
So let’s jump right in—I started with the Creamy Celery Root & Yukon Gold Potato Soup with its potato croutons, truffled mushroom purée and golden celery leaves…and ended in the fondest of memories…
I don’t often opt for pork but the Berkshire Pork Two Ways called to me. The crispy belly was good, the grilled tenderloin was sensational! Served with Marion Garden’s Thyme-Scented Cabbage, Caraway Spaetzle, Apple Compote and Mustard Reduction it hit all the right notes! The spaetzle was unusual, large chunks. REALLY rich.
Not only could I not resist dessert—I couldn’t resist ordering the Coconut Tapioca. I’ve had it before and, turns out, as long as it’s on the menu I won’t ever be tempted by any other of Pastry Chef Claudia Fleming’s other concoctions. It’s sublime. A pool of coconut tapioca with smooth coconut and passion fruit sorbets and crispy coconut wafers. I try to order different dishes each time I eat at a restaurant but I’m weak. But after that first, guilty spoonful I said, “Oh yeah, hell yeah!” and dug in.
I did another thing I never do at other restaurants and had a second piece of bread—North Fork’s fabulous, chewy focaccia with sweet butter…
I just got way ahead of myself. My husband and I started with cocktails—The “Huckleberry Ginn” for moi and “The Bloody Boar” for Husband. Each suited as my drink of Beefeater gin, ginger beer and housemade huckleberry gastrique was not a bit too sweet and Husband’s house-infused bacon vodka Bloody Mary did not “bore.”
Husband started with the Peconic Bay Scallop Crudo with Crisp Ginger Cracklings, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Cilantro Shoots and Super Tuscan Olive Oil. He said that the grapefruit was present but not overpowering and overall he felt pretty “super Tuscan” about it all.
He followed up with the Pan Roasted Atlantic Swordfish with Butternut Squash, Oyster Mushrooms, Sweet Peppers and Black Truffle Purée. He opined, “What I like about this is everything has a distinct flavor, very clean tasting, masterful.”
At our server Chelsea’s suggestion he paired the swordfish with a Chardonnay from Old Field Vineyards. It worked for him as this chard is not
Local libations are also available from Lieb Cellars, McCall Wines, Onabay Vineyards, One Woman Wines & Vineyards, Palmer Vineyards, Paumanok Vineyards, Sherwood House Vineyards, Shinn Estate Vineyards and Sparkling Pointe.
Two tiny housemade malomars were sent to our table. They are ALMOST too cute to eat.
Husband knew to save room for dessert because we’ve dined at the North Fork Table before. Chef Fleming’s work is indeed something to look forward to. He ordered the Chocolate Caramel Tart with chocolate mousse and caramel ice cream, which he defined joyously as “rich as hell.”
Husband closed the meal, the culinary escapade, with a small snifter of Chartreuse.
Chelsea suggested that we take home some of Fleming’s Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin cookies but we demurred…as least until next time.