August 10, 2006 | Insatiable Critic

The North Fork Table & Inn

A duo of fine-dining veterans, burned out by the city and smitten with Long Island’s rich local harvest, have made the brand-new North Fork Table & Inn an imperative year-round detour in a neighborhood that claims to be starved for quality. Mid-life crisis brought Manhattan kitchen stars Gerry Hayden (Aureole, Amuse) and Claudia Fleming (Gramercy Tavern) to Southold. “I was tired of chasing a lifestyle I was never going to have,” says Fleming. Hayden agrees: “We discovered we both wanted to leave New York.” His buyout from Amuse bought a house, and helped finance the purchase, with partners, of the former Coeur des Vignes. There in a simple country setting with lowish ceilings and pale-gray wainscoting, fluke sashimi is dazzlingly fresh and framed with ruby grapefruit, and gulf shrimp float in a gazpacho swamp lush with tomatoes on a menu driven by the market. Tonight orecchiette is tossed with braised lamb, pancetta, sheep’s-milk ricotta, and more of that tangy tomato, while Atlantic sea bass sits in a puddle of mustardy broth with couscous. Fleming does apricot-blueberry crumb tart, ricotta cheesecake, and upside down peach-raspberry cobbler, graced with her sensational cream-cheese ice cream or vanilla frozen yogurt. So far, the new house is untouched, but a bakery and two new guest rooms to supplement the much-in-demand existing four are in the planning.

57225 Main Road (Rt. 25) Southold, NY 631 765 0177