Penultimate Summer Weekend

End of SummerThere it goes, the next to last summer weekend.  Shall we wax poetic about the end of summer? Reminisce about the amazing things we experienced and mourn opportunities missed?

Heck no.

The end of summer only means that Autumn is upon us and if you’re even remotely familiar with Long Island or the North Fork you understand that Autumn is actually the season when the North Fork shines.

We have a few things to include here, so rather than add random posts right now, we’ll just start the weekend a little early.

Dinner at Michael Anthony’s Food Bar .  Sure it was during the week, but when the workday is over and you’re having a good evening, why not call it the weekend?  I’m never sure The Food Barwhether I should call it Michael Anthony’s or The Food Bar for short.  Either one works for the locals that flock to this restaurant.  Don’t let the neighborhood setting fool you – seriously, it’s in the middle of a residential neighborhood – this is a cozy restaurant that serves fantastic “NYC” style dishes.  It’s family run, and their interaction is almost like a sitcom, from the gregarious chef who loves to meet the people he’s feeding to his daughter who runs front of house and makes sure that he spends less time shaking hands and more time plating amazing entrees.  Their warm charms only serve to make this place even more than just another restaurant.  It’s very easy to feel like a member of their family when they come over and warmly greet you at this fantastic eatery.  Because of it’s location, right at the start of the North Fork Wine Trail and a short walk from Wildwood State Park, it’s a great place to start or end your North Fork drive.

EriksAt the end of our workday on Friday, we ventured out to Greenport for dinner.  We stopped at Erik’s for a late lunch, catching them seconds before closing.  Erik’s serves only lunch and breakfast.  At the door, it reads deli.  You walk in, decide what you feel like eating from the specials on the board and pay at the register before taking a seat.  Seating is both indoors and out, with a lovely terrace with umbrellas and tables.  A waiter brings your food.  Deli, it’s not.  Food is amazing and conscientiously prepared.  This is one of those places that is a local secret because unless you’re in the know, you probably won’t stop here.  But do, and see for yourself how amazing this place is.

Having a late lunch means we weren’t up for a full dinner and found ourselves at the bar of First and South for a drink and late night snacks.  We’ve talked First_and_South-20140811-71-2about this place before, so please don’t get the idea that it’s the only place worth eating in Greenport, because there are several amazing places to choose from.  We just wandered here.  We became official ambassadors for their Old Bay Cracker Jacks.  Think Cracker Jacks of your youth but seasoned for your adulthood.  The only thing missing were the Mercedes key fob, because that’s the sort of surprise you expect from these Cracker Jacks!  The bar at First and South isn’t huge, but that allows the bartender to smother you with love and attention.  The full menu is available, and always worth an exploration.

On Saturday we decided not to venture east and settled at Empire State Cellars in the afternoon.  Empire State Cellars (ESC) is located in Tanger Outlets in Empire State Cellar LogoRiverhead, between the food court and Samsonite of Tanger 1.  If you’re headed to the outlets, you must make this a destination.  There’s a “bar” at the back of what appears to be a typical wine shop, where tastes of some of the local wines, beers, and spirits can be sampled.  They don’t serve cocktails, but are polite when people mistake this fact and order one.  We have those shopping days, too.  Today’s tasting was called the Rosé Rumble, sort of a Long Island versus Finger Lakes smack-down of rosé wines.  They paired up four wines from each region and had a taste-off.  There were a few notable locals missing from the rumble, like Croteaux Vineyards , but they’re sold out for the season and it would be unfair to include an unavailable option among the fighters.  We tested rosés from Macari Vineyards , Palmer Vineyards , Bridge Lane, and Shinn Estate Vineyards .  In the end, the crowd showed perhaps some bias towards the North Fork, crowning the 2013 Macari Rose champion.

Sunday was a lazy day.  Before dinner we ventured almost back to the outlets and went into Bistro 72 for before dinner cocktails and appetizers.  Bistro 72 is bistro-72the restaurant attached to Hotel Indigo on Route 25 right where Routes 58 and 25 split and the Long Island Expressway ends.  It’s got a really 50’s swank vibe, reminding us of hotel restaurants in Palm Springs.  While the weather is right, there’s plenty of outdoor seating with a fireplace and space heaters so it can be enjoyed perhaps into November.  The food is fantastic.  We shared the duck confit spring rolls and the soft pretzel appetizers.  While each are amazing on their own, the accompanying sauces were fantastic when shared back and forth between dishes.  Had we been staying for dinner, we would have coveted those sauces when the waiter tried to clear the table between courses.  Bistro 72 has an extremely convenient location and should be explored.

Some notable omissions:

Harvest East End was Saturday evening.  Governor Cuomo was there to celebrate Macari’s win of NYS Winery of the Year.

Turkauz Grill in Riverhead, located beside/behind Atlantis Aquarium was reviewed most favorably by the NY Times, which called it a destination restaurant.  We can vouch for that!

So there you go – next weekend is Labor Day.  It’s the perfect time to get out on the North Fork, taste some wine, some beer, and some food.  It’s almost autumn, and as apples come into season, we’ll be adding hard cider to the mix.  Whether you missed it in summer or are coming back for another visit, this coming weekend kicks off what North-Forks believes is the best time to see the Fork.  At under 90 minutes from Manhattan, even with some traffic, there’s no reason not to create an experience with friends by visiting a few tasting rooms and a restaurant or two.

Let us know what you do!



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