It was supposed to be the restaurant opening of the season: Southold’s North Fork Table & Inn changed hands late last year, and the new owners, a group headed by Michelin-starred chef, John Fraser, undertook a major renovation of the property with an eye toward a summertime launch.
Thanks to COVID-19, Fraser's JF Restaurants has plenty of time to finish any interior renovations, but on Friday the food truck at the back of the parking lot will open for business.
Steven Barrantes, a longtime chef for the restaurant group, will preside over the kitchen. The menu will include the "BLAT," with bacon, butter, lettuce, avocado and tomatoes; a lobster roll with cucumber, confit fennel and celery salt; and an all-beef hot dog with relish, sauerkraut, Kewpie mayonnaise, chive sour cream, mustard and crispy shallots. There are also burgers (beef and Beyond), fried chicken, salads and cookies. Except for the lobster roll ($21) nothing costs more than $18.
For the time being, there will be no lounging on the restaurant’s lawn and, to encourage social distancing, there is an “order ahead” option on the restaurant’s website.
Summer is still the target date for the restaurant’s opening. A representative noted that “We're lucky in that we have plenty of space on the property, so we'll be able to offer indoor and outdoor dining with plenty of social distancing.”
The North Fork Table & Inn opened in 2006 and jump-started the North Fork’s culinary revolution. It was owned by chef Gerry Hayden, his wife, pastry chef Claudia Fleming, and two front-of-house veterans, Mike and Mary Mraz. In the years following Hayden’s death in 2015, there were persistent rumors of the restaurant’s imminent sale, but it kept going strong under the leadership of its three remaining owners and Hayden’s successors in the kitchen, Stephan Bogardus (now at The Halyard in Greenport) and Brian Wilson, both of whom earned 3½-star reviews from Newsday.
Fraser purchased the restaurant with a group of investors who are also involved in a proposal to develop a property on a 6.75-acre site about 200 yards west of the North Fork Table, according to the draft environmental impact statement submitted to the town.
JF Restaurants includes The Loyal in Manhattan’s West Village and NIX, a Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant in the East Village. Fraser was also chef-owner of the acclaimed Upper West Side restaurant Dovetail from 2007 to 2018, and is partners with hotelier Ian Schrager in all the food and beverage venues at Schrager’s EDITION hotels in Times Square and Los Angeles.
North Fork Table & Inn, 57225 Main Rd., Southold, 631-765-0177, northforktableandinn.com