Sunday, December 04
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Deluxe Decadence

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Two tables away a Chocolate-Caramel Tart arrives with a candle, accompanied by audible oohs and ahs from its recipient. Across the room a bottle of Veuve Clicquot is poured into the glasses of a table of six. The North Fork Table & Inn is the sort of place – a true destination – where people come to celebrate life’s milestones. The ambiance is warm and welcoming, the staff is accommodating and the food is world class.

We are not the only diners to reach this conclusion. Among the restaurant’s many accolades is Food and Wine’s allocation of it as one of America’s best bed and breakfasts. The Zagat’s entry for 2015 is posted on the front porch, a grand plantation-style columned affair. The publication’s contributors give the eatery’s food a stellar score of 4.8.

Claudia Fleming is part owner and a renowned pastry chef, having plied her trade at the likes of Gramercy Tavern before co-founding North Fork in 2005. Elle magazine calls her the Goddess of New American Pastry and lists her among such gastronomic luminaries as Lidia Bastianich, Madeleine Kamman and Alice Waters.

The menu’s focus is seasonally inspired featuring locally grown biodynamic and organic produce, seafood from the Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound, award-winning North Fork artisanal cheeses and, of course, many of the region’s acclaimed wines.

We order from Chef Stephan Bogardus’s three-course prix fixe menu ($67) and accompanying wine flight ($20), a wonderfully decadent approach to fine dining. Our soup, a robust puree of Long Island cheese pumpkin, is poured over little puffs of pomegranate molasses and given a welcome crunch from roasted unshelled pumpkin seeds.

The hand-cut cavatelli is piled high with a generous hillock of shaved Burgundy truffles. We declare it the ultimate comfort food. Our biggest surprise was the seared Hudson Valley foie gras sandwiched with raw tuna and lit up with glazed daikon and radish syrup. Who’d a thought that this peculiar marriage of textures and flavors would be both so ethereal and explosive? After our first bite, my companion and I just looked at each other and burst out laughing. It was that good. And it was helped along by a luscious cream sherry from Spain.

The wild striped bass was given a subtle kick with black garlic dashi. The duck from nearby Crescent Farm was prepared in two ways: a roasted breast and a confit of pulled meat formed into a dazzling strudel. Did we mention it was drenched in a foie gras sauce?! And washed down with a mushroom and fig accented merlot from Southold’s Old Field winery.

We are not tapioca aficionados (Did you know that tapioca is actually a starch extracted from the cassava root?), but our waitperson informed us that the version here won Fleming a James Beard Award. Wow. We’re converts, if not to our grandma’s tapioca to the creamy yet refreshing coconut ambrosia served here along with scoops of passion fruit sorbet and a ribbon of basil syrup. We couldn’t resist the coffee-toffee ice cream sandwich, a refined kind of sundae layered with roasted bananas and an inspired peanut butter whipped cream. OMG.

When we talk to the very accessible foursome at the next table, they agree wholeheartedly that this place offers some of the best victuals found anywhere. And they ought to know. Guests at the upstairs inn, they are visiting from foodie mecca, Santa Cruz. One of the group works for Google. It’s nice to know that this outstanding eatery is on the Google map in more ways than one.