Back in 1869, when the rambling gray house on Bayport Avenue first opened its doors as a stagecoach stop, those who happened in may have dined on hot cakes, pork chops and lager. Now one of Long Island's longest-running watering holes (most recently known as the Grey Horse Tavern) will add fried burrata, roasted cauliflower steaks and shrimp and grits to the long list of victuals it has served over 150 years when it reopens as JT's Farmhouse by the end of the month.
The name may sound quasi-familiar to Bayport-area locals: Proprietor Justin Tempelman also runs the oft-busy JT's Cafe, in Blue Point, as well as seasonal spots JT's on the Bay (also in Blue Point) and JT's Hideaway in Patchogue.
Earlier this year, Blue Point Brewing Co. co-founder Peter Cotter bought the building at 291 Bayport Ave. from the owners of the shuttered Grey Horse Tavern and subsequently partnered with Tempelman and others, who have been knee-deep in renovations since, Tempelman said.
JT's Farmhouse will combine the historic details of the post-Civil-War building — with its stained glass, hefty inner columns and giant turnbuckle in the bar — with an of-the-moment seasonal comfort-food menu that draws on some local seafood and produce for bacon-tomato bisque, beer-can mussels, flatbreads and charcuterie boards, and such entrees as seared scallops over risotto or marinated skirt steak with pimento mac-and-cheese. Chef Shane LeBlanc, most recently of New York City's Park Avenue Tavern, will lead the kitchen, and Tempelman said the restaurant will eventually be open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
The building's atmospheric barroom was once the setting for visits from the then-owners' gray horse, who was led in to sip beer alongside revelers. As JT's Farmhouse, the bar will have 22 taps, live music and cocktails such as the Drunken Wilbur — bacon-infused bourbon, simple syrup and lemonade.
Tempelman is aiming for a Thanksgiving eve opening. "We have about two months of work to do in two weeks," he joked. "But we'd like to be open that night."