The American beech tree, leaves bronzed for fall, grows slowly and spreads a wide canopy. The wood wears well, too.
So does its namesake restaurant, which is brightening the Greenport autumn.
American Beech is planted in the Stirling Square complex, where its light hues, polished blond wood and puffy pillows fit in as neatly as the celebrated tree does near the restaurant. The dining room used to house the short-lived Main Restaurant and, before that, the North Fork Oyster Company.
It's overseen by Dennis McDermott, who brought the Frisky Oyster to downtown Greenport and the now-gone The Riverhead Project to fruition. The chef is Arielle Ferrara, who excelled at the Riverhead restaurant. They've created a casual, comfortable New American destination, with attentive service and first-class food.
New England-style clam chowder, boosted by applewood-smoked bacon, suits the scenery and the appetite. Orecchiette with wild mushrooms, spinach, mascarpone, garlic and toasted bread crumbs is lush stuff. Spaghetti-squash latkes also are recommended, with apple sauce and herbaceous crème fraîche. There's plenty of flavor packed into a braised-short-rib empanada.
Baked littleneck clams benefit from an anchovy-herb butter and a panko crust. But Moroccan-spiced lamb meatballs arrive underseasoned and on the dry side, despite feta, yogurt sauce and pine nuts. Pork belly fried rice overdoes the saltiness.
You're better off with the savory shrimp curry bowl, enlivened by Thai basil-coconut broth and soothed by basmati rice. Or the tasty lemongrass-ginger seafood pot, a warming main course with finfish, shrimp, mussels and saffron sauce.
Ferrara stands out with meaty, snowy, perfectly moist cut of seared local striped bass, accompanied by toasted fregola, pine nuts and an olive-and-celery relish. She's equally at ease with crisp, juicy buttermilk fried chicken that's spurred by spiced honey, blue-cheese-laced greens, and pickled onion and tomato.
The sliced strip steak is among the East End's best, with chive butter, a red-wine demi-glace and truffled Parmesan fingerling potato fries. And Ferrara sends out a terrific cheeseburger, with Gruyère, caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms and garlicky aioli on a pretzel bun. You can hold onto summer with her ample, delectable lobster roll, given its personality via lemon crème fraîche and celery, in toasted brioche. On the side, sample crunchy Brussels sprouts with lardons.
You'll be ready for the rustic apple crumble and the warm carrot cake, the almond-mascarpone cheesecake with orange ricotta and the combo of dark-cocoa brownies, chocolate mousse, crème Anglaise and crumbled cookies.
Near November, American Beech is in full bloom.