Fans of chef Keith Luce mourned the loss of his popular North Fork duck wings when he left the Jedediah Hawkins Inn last fall. But since April, they have been celebrating the gradual rollout of The Square, Luce's collection of culinary venues at Stirling Square in Greenport.
Main, in the former home of North Fork Oyster Company, anchors the complex, and yes, it features Luce's famous drumettes, coated in Asian chili sauce, just as meaty and succulent as they were when you ate them in Jamesport. In addition to those wings, Main, under the direction of executive chef Alfred Hand, serves an appealing selection of upscale bar food and satisfying seafood.
The blackboard over the oyster station at the entrance announces one of the restaurant's strengths, its selection of raw oysters from as close by as Long Island and as far away as British Columbia. You can order them by the half-dozen or dozen, and on a given night there might be 8 or 10 choices, side by side. Gimmicky name notwithstanding, the plump, rich and briny Naked Cowboys from Blue Island Oyster Farm in Great South Bay were favorites.
Another starter, the mixed fried local seafood, which included squid, clams and the invigorating surprise of tiny deep-fried hot peppers, was also delicious. Crabcakes fell apart on contact with a fork, a sign that they were mostly crab and not much filler. Less appealing were General Luce's Pork Wraps, a small portion of well-seasoned but dry pork that came with a perfunctory hot sauce, chopped peanuts and a few large and unwieldy lettuce leaves for wrapping.
Generosity characterizes the main courses. The Baymen's Stew is a bottomless bowl of lobster, clams and fish in a brothy sauce, enough food for two or three. The excellent lobster roll was pricey at $26, but worth it considering the copious amount of lobster it contained. There was one surprising miss in the seafood department: a dish of spaghetti (freshly made by Luce) with clams in a glutinous and salty sauce.
Most desserts were bland and boilerplate: A soft and creamy black and white chocolate mousse cake, a soft and creamy cheesecake, and a soft and creamy key lime pie. The house-made mascarpone ice cream, also soft and creamy, had a lot more personality.
Service was friendly but slow. The narrow L-shaped dining room with stone fireplace will feel cozy in the winter but felt a little dark and cramped at the height of summer. Tables on the outdoor patio are an option at this time of year, if you are a fan of the live musical act of the evening. A favorite spot was the sleek bar by the restaurant's front door, where diners perch on stools, sip a North Fork chardonnay and watch as their oysters are shucked.