Chef François Payard Brings His Talent to Southold Social

Southold Social chef François Payard cropped
Southold Social chef François Payard

Chef François Payard has brought his award winning cuisine to the North Fork in the newly opened Southold Social. This bistro featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients in its seasonal dishes is one to try, seated within the Southold hamlet, in the epicenter of the North Fork.

What sets Southold Social apart from other restaurants across the island is the man behind the food, Payard. This third-generation chef began his work making pastries in his grandfather’s shop Au Nid Des Friandises on the Riviera. His origins, fine tuning his skills for his craft, were at La Tour d’Argent in Paris where he worked alongside his family and later came to New York to continue his career.

Payard’s touch was brought to restaurants throughout New York, where he was honored with the James Beard award, recognizing talent, achievement and commitment to humanitarian-related issues in his field. He opened his own restaurant, François Payard Patisserie & Bistro serving French bistro fare and desserts, which has since closed.

These experiences afforded Payard plenty more awards, including the “Ordre du Mérite Agricole” from the French Government, the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence and the “Pastry Chef of the Year” award from Bon Appétit.

All Payard’s accolades combined with the former work of Adam Lovett, a revered North Fork restaurateur who co-owns and operates the space, have come together to make for a spirited dining experience.

The goal of the two professionals is to bring the hyperlocal maritime culture to life here on the North Fork, in combination with the benefits that come with being in rural wine country and surrounded by farmland. Ingredients from the bounty of North Fork agriculture and aquaculture are highlighted throughout the menu featuring house-made pasta, locally sourced meats and seafood, bright and tart salads, and an assortment of wines.

Their menu is set to expand soon with brunch in the works.

Food is simply at the core of things to enjoy at Southold Social and the setting itself adds more. Ambiance is achieved inside of the bi-level space, with original wooden beams and teak flooring. It expands from the classic dining room for an enjoyable sit-down meal, into an energetic, buzzing bar area bringing the social aspect to life.

An extensive tented outdoor patio brings the fabulous food into the open air and a 38-seat private dining space makes for the ideal area to host special events like a rehearsal dinner or large group of any sort. The future image of Southold Social features a grand firepit for oyster roasts on the outdoor patio by mid-summer.

This new, esteemed restaurant is located at 56125 Main Road (Cottage Place) in Southold. It is open from 5:30–9:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and 5:30–10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

A Conversation with François Payard of Southold Social

What was the spark that initiated the creation of Southold Social?

I had been using the kitchen for the past year to prepare all of the desserts and ice cream for my different ventures around town. I also love that I am able to work so closely with many different farmers and fisheries to create the freshest dishes from the bounty of the North Fork.

What do you think will make this restaurant different from the other ones that you have opened and served as the chef?

I am hoping that this bistro will be like Payard in the way that it has great food and people will come and make lasting memories. I think Southold Social is different because it is more casual dining in a warm setting with generous portions.

How did you and your co-owner Adam Lovett get connected?

We were connected by ownership.

What qualities do you and Lovett each bring into this unique space?

We both bring different qualities to Southold Social. We share responsibility between the front and the back of the house. Adam oversees operations in the front and I run the kitchen in the back.

A lot of your culinary roots are based in France. How do you believe your French background will come to life in Southold?

We utilize French cooking techniques and local ingredients to create dishes that appeal to the local clientele. That’s why everyone loves the pasta so much! Everything I make is European-inspired, since I am from Nice, which was Italian before it was French.

Considering the local-origin focus within the menu, are there any new cuisine items that you are working with out here on the East End?

Using local ingredients has allowed me to really get creative with new menu signatures. Once, we made a special stuffed artichoke that was completely vegetarian. We source beef from local farmers for our filet mignon, so we use what is leftover to make beef tartare. Tonight, we have beef tartare served with chimichurri and Parmigiano Reggiano topped with a big crouton and olive oil, like they do in Crete.

What is your favorite menu item and why?

I love the crudo! I love that it is all about the fresh fish — the locally-caught fish shines with a little dressing and vegetables. We like to add jalapeño, but we keep them on ice water so it’s not too spicy and you can enjoy all of the different flavors at once, which makes this a truly unique experience.

If you had to choose, what are you most looking forward to for the future of the restaurant?

There is something for everyone on this menu. I hope that people enjoy the bistro and that we convert regulars.

Visit southoldsocial.com to learn more about Southold Social.

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