A while back I was working for the summer at Hamptons Magazine, where I edited a story about Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming, a couple who are also the chefs at North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, New York (he handles the savory fare and she the sweet). I was really taken by their story of falling in love as aspiring chefs in the kitchen at TriBeCa Grill, and then eventually leaving New York City to create their own restaurant on the beautiful North Fork of Long Island with friends Mike and Mary Mraz.
Last winter I headed out for a weekend visit. The North Fork Table & Inn (or NOFOTI as they call it) is the sort of place that immediately sets you at ease with a warm welcome, offer of a drink and help with your bags. The inn portion of the property is comprised of just four rooms, tucked away up the stairs from the bar. Each of the rooms is light-filled, cozy and charming, with queen beds dressed with Frette linens and private bathrooms stocked with products from the America's oldest apothecary, C.O. Bigelow.
Downstairs in the restaurant, the progressive American menu changes seasonally, and is based around locally grown, organic and biodynamic produce and Long Island seafood. I recommend springing for the tasting menu, paired with wines from the North Fork's vineyards, particularly if you're staying at the inn. There's nothing quite like eating a fantastic meal and then being able to simply walk up the stairs to your bed.
If you'd prefer a more casual meal, NOFOTI also runs a food truck from its parking lot, which serves up lunch fare like lobster rolls and gourmet hot dogs. The restaurant also offers a weekend brunch—don't leave without trying their house Bloody Mary, made with bacon-infused vodka. Note: the inn and the restaurant book up early, particularly on weekends, so be sure to plan your visit ahead of time (rooms from $200 per night).