Southold has seen such an influx of city dwellers seeking a great getaway that it’s being called ‘Hamptons 2.’ It’s not surprising with the locale’s natural beauty, impressive wineries, trendy bars and a burgeoning restaurant scene with star chefs.
This charming hamlet is quite the foodie paradise. Here you’ll find James Beard Award winning French master chef Francois Payard who did his magic at his famed New York Payard Patisserie, Le Bernardin, Restaurant Daniel, and Lucas Carton in Paris. Locals and visitors gladly wait in line for his scrumptious pastries at Southold General. The popular café and gourmet market features peach and pear tarts to die for, hedonistic almond and chocolate croissants, decadent delights filled with local blueberries, strawberries or hazelnuts and more.
Other offerings created by a joint collaboration between Michelin- starred chef John Fraser and Payard include tasty sandwiches such as Angus steak and porchetta with broccoli rabe and fontina, pizza grandma style, inspired salads and addictive gelato. Both chefs visit local farms and markets weekly for inspiration for their farm to table menu. You can grab and go, sit inside or at a table in the open courtyard in Einstein Square that faces a mural of the esteemed physicist in shorts, who was so taken with Southold he summered here in the late 1930’s.
Payard opened Restaurant Southold Social on Main Road June 10th and it’s already buzzing. His ‘something for everyone menu’ includes black squid ink linguine with shrimp, parsley and lobster bisque, steamed mussels in a spicy marinara, Marrakesh chicken with raisins, olives, cured lemon and harissa and of course, a lobster roll.
Southhold’s newest hotel ‘The Shoals,’ opened this May, is the perfect place to kick back and explore the area. Set on a marina with sweeping views of Peconic Bay, the property features 20 spacious suites that are light and airy with kitchenettes, extremely comfortable beds, outdoor patios and stylish lounge with full bar and grand piano. It provides a breezy escape from the city. I loved sitting dockside on a lounger, gazing out at the boats, the blue sea and listening to the sound of birds.
Chef Payard developed the menu for The Shoals so guests enjoy his yummy croissants and muffins for breakfast in the lounge overlooking the bay as well as the chef’s luscious lobster rolls, salads and other goodies in the hotel’s food truck parked on the property, along with a selection of local wines.
The Shoals calls itself a “boatel” as it has 20 slips that can be rented so guests can also arrive by boat. The friendly staff can arrange an outing on the hotel’s 30-foot stylish Chris-Craft speedboat that can be chartered for a glorious afternoon on the water. You can tool around the bay, stop at nearby beaches, Shelter Island, even Montauk and savor a picnic lunch onboard containing Chef Payard’s specialties paired with a bottle of Rosé. The hotel also offers beach passes for the beaches in and around Southold Town.
For Oyster Lovers: The hotel owners have partnered with Little Ram Oyster Company, owned by Elizabeth Peeples and Stefanie Bassett, located in a waterfront building adjacent to The Shoals. These enterprising former New York City gals started oyster farming here four years ago. Don’t miss their weekly Wednesday night tasting for oysters that are simply divine. They also offer offsite tours and shucking lessons.
The hotel’s owners also own North Fork Table & Inn in Southold where chef John Fraser turns out perfectly executed dishes such as delectable roasted Long Island duck with creamy polenta, roasted pearl onions and rhubarb compote and tastiest 8 Hands Farm grilled pork loin with flageolet bean ragout roasted pearl onions and rhubarb compote. There’s a food truck on the grounds as well offering fried chicken, a heritage pork burger with bourbon mustard BBQ and pickled cabbage, lobster rolls and more.
If you have a yen for French cuisine head to Demarchelier Bistro in close-by Greenport, formerly located on New York’s upper east side. This North Fork establishment with dishes such as roasted salmon with lentils and beurre blanc, a current exhibition of paintings inspired by Patrick Demarchelier’s famous photographs and lovely patio, feels like you’re in Paris.
The impressive Halyard Restaurant, also in Greenport overlooking Long Island Sound, offers gorgeous sunset views from its outdoor deck paired with a sublime menu. A dinner of melt in your mouth fluke, yuzu crudo, Hamachi sashimi with preserved radish and Atlantic Yellowfin tuna with bok choy, marinated mushrooms and miso, transported me to foodie heaven.
Back in Southhold, Gerard Lane’s store ‘About Food’ is filled with all kinds of gastronomic goodies including chutneys, preserves, sauces and his own creations such as mustard with deli brown beer honey and French tarragon plus a home baked bread on Saturdays with black pepper and fennel in honor of his mother ( both sell out early). After a lunch of salmon tacos at an outdoor table at the popular Southhold Fish Market where guests pick their choice of the catch of the day, I headed back to the city. Passing beautiful greenery and an array of farmstands, I smiled knowing I will soon return.