When Port Jefferson restaurateur Lisa Harris and righthand man/business partner Thomas Fazio were plotting their newest venture, they and their significant others took a trip south, to Nashville.
Harris and Fazio had recently purchased what used to be Smoke Shack Blues on Main Street, and down in Music City, the group checked out restaurants, honky tonks and related places for research on Fork & Fiddle, a Southern-style restaurant they planned in the shotgun space.
A cousin of sorts to Prohibition Kitchen — a restaurant Harris owns elsewhere on Port Jeff's Main Street, and opened last year (she also owns the doughnut shop East Main and Main, and the pie shop Torte Jeff) — Fork & Fiddle opened in January. And like Prohibition Kitchen, Fork & Fiddle is done up in reclaimed wood and assorted recycled/industrial objects, such as corrugated steel wainscoting, an old bicycle as the host stand and repurposed wine barrels, plus polished wood tables and metal chairs. In the midst of the dining room is a raised stage for live music.
Fork & Fiddle's a la carte menu is an entertaining document that hits high and low, north and south and west, with dishes such as biscuits, corn and gravy, deep-fried deviled eggs, pimento cheese dip with fried bread, St. Louis-style sticky ribs and a roasted Brussels sprouts salad with a lemon-pepper poached egg. Unexpected twists are rife, like "slow-country"-style fried rice with brisket, scallions, shishito peppers and Hatch chiles or panko-capped baked clams come with bacon, a "fricassee" of peppers plus queso bravo, a Land O' Lakes creation. These plates fall mostly fall between $14 and $22.
Deeper into the restaurant, past the main dining room, is a quasi-hidden oyster bar comprised of a counter with a few seats and a daily bill of oysters from Long Island and beyond (such as Peconic Golds and Raspberry Points) shucked to order in front of customers.
Fork & Fiddle may be the only restaurant for many miles that serves a 14-course Southern tasting menu, as well as a tighter family-style menu, an eight-dish spread that costs $28 per person and ends with deep-fried apple pie. For now, the drinks offering is compact; until a bar is added in the future (pending village approval) a handful of beers, local wines and cocktails are poured, and served tableside.
Fork & Fiddle opens Thursday at 4 p.m. and Friday at 5 p.m. for dinner, and serves family-style brunch (and, later, regular dinner service) from noon on Saturday and Sunday. Find it at 138 Main St. in Port Jefferson, 585-888-3245.