You don’t have to spend all your summer afternoons scouring the local markets to get a good sense of what the season has to offer. Luckily, on the North Fork, there are a wealth of restaurants invested in seasonal produce. Just show up and let the restaurant do the heavy lifting.
On Front Street in Greenport, chef Noah Schwartz has been embracing seasonality at his restaurant Noah’s for nearly a decade. His dishes, as is to be expected, are constantly changing, but diners can plan on a vegetable-heavy menu, with nods to local farms. A spring set included grilled Orient asparagus, with a local poached egg and frisée salad. The comprehensive menu, which is divided into tastes, skewers, small plates, full plates, and vegetable sides, offers ample opportunity to highlight in-season produce.
Just down the street, chef/owner Robby Beaver runs the fun, inspiring Frisky Oyster, another study in localism. The menu changes, to some degree, on a daily basis, so there’s no telling what you may encounter (though produce reflecting the season is a safe bet). Consider a spring side of fiddlehead ferns sautéed in lemon and garlic — the tender tips of the edible fern plant are only in season for a few short weeks. What a treat to see them given their own space to shine on a restaurant menu.
Also in Greenport, First and South provides delicious, casual fare with a local bent. Their salad is not just any salad — it’s a salad with biodynamically grown greens from KK’s the Farm, in Southold. And while the menu may feel protein-forward, with a staggering selection of snacks and entrées, the accompanying veggies and garnishes are all representative of the bounty of the local farms.
Farther west, in Jamesport, the historic Jamesport Manor Inn serves reliably seasonal fare with a sophisticated edge. A spring shrimp cavatelli overflowed with sweet peas and ramps, while an asparagus bisque — amplified by crème fraiche — tasted as if it had just been picked from the ground, as did the equally delicious asparagus in a dish of the roasted vegetable, with ricotta salata, crispy prosciutto, and a fried quail egg.
Not far away, the Jedediah Hawkins Inn, also in Jamesport, follows the seasons with their ever-changing dinner menu. Recently, the restaurant served whole branzino with pearl couscous and a late spring buffet of fava beans, pea shoots, and watermelon radish, while pan-seared scallops came with Puy lentils, young leeks, and baby artichokes. As with most of these restaurants, the sets will change as summer progresses.
Of course, once corn and tomato and basil are in season, these restaurants will feature those delicacies, too. It’s worth noting, in the meantime, that these are reliable places to catch whatever happens to be ripe and perfect at the market, for the short window that it’s here. Enjoy a sampling of the best of Long Island’s farms through the prism of these incomparable dining experiences, all of which will bring you a little closer to the land.