The streets of Greenport have a particular air about them, that small-town kind of feel you get walking through a neighborhood where somebody is going to know your name and give you a wave or a smile. Local shops and art galleries and restaurants, they all exude it. Step inside Demarchelier.
“A feeling of comfort, welcoming, no judgement, a feeling of family, a cozy place where you always feel at home.” That is exactly the vibe Emily Demarchalier had in mind when she decided to bring the new eponymous French bistro to Greenport, and the reason guests say it already exudes a feeling of having long been part of the local fabric, even though it only opened its doors to diners a few weeks ago.
Yes, you read that right. New. A few weeks ago. In a time when businesses cut from myriad cloths are facing challenges to stay open like never before, the sign of hope and promise that comes from a new venture cannot be understated.
Yet the Demarchalier name itself is not new to the waterfront village. You may recognize it from the restaurant at The Menhaden hotel, where they have been serving fine French food since June, as delays for the bistro’s originally planned April opening were exacerbated by COVID-19. And it actually goes a bit deeper than that.
“I grew up going to Shelter Island in the summer, since I was born,” Demarchalier says, “and I really saw the evolution of Greenport in the past few years. I’ve always wanted to have a business out here,” she continues, noting that as the culinary scene has grown and Greenport has become a dining destination, the one thing it distinctly lacked, she says with wonder, was a French bistro. “There’s not one on the North Fork.”
And suddenly, there is. And it is very much a family affair. The tradition is carried over from the Upper East Side bistro her parents ran. Emily and her brother Benjamin are partners in both Greenport spots. “My staff from the city chose to move out to Greenport to work for me here, and that makes it easy to bring that same neighborhood, familial feel to it,” she says.
And just as in NYC, the walls are adorned with paintings by her father, Eric. As always, they are for sale, a sort of ongoing gallery show for diners. “He’s been painting for over 20 years, and we’ve been showing his artwork in the restaurant for at least 10 or 15 years, and we’re going to continue doing that. He’s retired and painting more than ever.”
The bistro menu is also classic Demarchalier, such fare as steak tartare and charcuterie, duck confit and cheese fondue, nods to the famed New York City spot that closed in 2019 when landlord decided to develop the real estate on the corner where the restaurant had stood since 1978. Dining at the bistro will be a distinct experience from The Menhaden, where offerings will continue to be more in the formal dining vein.
“We don’t have much crossover on the menus—even items like the escargot will get different presentations in each place,” Demarchalier says. “The bistro is a much more relaxed, casual small space. Greenport is a walking town, and people like to sample a lot of different places. So I geared my menu at the bistro toward that.”
The food, the cocktails and wine list, the vibe, the vision, the warmth, the history. It is all in place, ready to meet the unknown that lies ahead. “Obviously, it’s not ideal to be opening any restaurant on the East End in November,” Demarchalier says with comic inflection, “but there are a lot more people out here, and a lot of restaurants are preparing to close for a few months come January and February. And I’ll be there for the community.”