Beef striploin with garlic potato gratin, swiss chard, Nebrodini mushrooms...

Beef striploin with garlic potato gratin, swiss chard, Nebrodini mushrooms and port wine reduction at North Fork Table & Inn in Southold Credit: Daniel Brennan

It says a lot about North Fork Table & Inn that the news of its imminent closure (since rescinded, at least partially) caused such deep ripples around Long Island. In the end, the story is no different than that of many East End restaurants: The Southold restaurant is closing for the winter season. The tertiary story, though, is more intriguing.

To recap, a Dec. 26 social media post (and a newsletter sent from the restaurant) bore the news that "after fourteen beautiful years, we will be closing our doors after dinner service on New Year's Eve, Tuesday December 31st." It also hinted at an "exciting new chapter" for the restaurant.

By the next morning, the post had been taken down and the venue’s spokeswoman insisted the restaurant was not closing. And later in the day, another post went up, implying the Dec. 31 end-of-service is only temporary. "We will re-open for summer next year," it read, adding that the restaurant's food truck will operate again in the spring. No word on whether co-owner Claudia Fleming or chef Brian Wilson (at the helm since early 2019) will still be involved. 

North Fork Table helped jumpstart the North Fork culinary boom in 2006, when chef Gerry Hayden and Fleming (they met at Tribeca Grill in New York City) opened the inn with hospitality veterans Michael and Mary Mraz. (Fleming is a celebrated pastry chef and author who won a James Beard Award in 2000, while at Gramercy Tavern). The restaurant championed Long Island wines and local, organic and biodynamic produce. Many East End food luminaries have passed through its kitchen. Hayden, who was a three-time finalist for a James Beard award himself, passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease in 2015.

The inn has been for sale for awhile, and is currently listed at $1.595 million. Last winter, Fleming told Newsday, “We’re always open to exploring the right opportunity if one should present itself."

However, the story unfolds later in 2020-14 years is an enviable run.

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