In June, celebrated New York–based chef François Payard and restaurateur Adam Lovett opened a new restaurant on Long Island’s North Fork: Southold Social. The former owner of the now-closed Payard Patisserie & Bistro restaurants, Payard built his reputation as a pastry chef at French icons La Tour d’Argent and Lucas Carton before moving to New York City to work at Le Bernardin and Daniel (both now Wine Spectator Grand Award winners).
“When I learned the space that is now Southold Social was available, I jumped at the opportunity,” Payard told Wine Spectator via email. He has been running the popular Southhold General food market in the wine-country town. “People still tell me all the time how much they loved [my restaurants] in New York City and Las Vegas. I am excited to bring something similar but different to Southold: delicious and affordable food and wine amidst the ambiance of a bistro.”
The bi-level Southold Social space, once an inn, is lined with its original wood beams, which complement teak floors leading to a tented patio outside, soon to have a fire pit for roasting shellfish. A 38-seat private dining area is located on the restaurant’s second floor.
Payard’s menu spotlights ingredients and produce from Long Island’s North Fork for dishes like Montauk black seabass, a Berkshire pork chop, truffle polenta, tuna tartare and a lobster roll. Guests can also enjoy a range of desserts, including pavlova, buttermilk panna cotta with seasonal fruit and Payard’s chocolate-hazelnut dome. “My upbringing in the south of France is coupled with the relaxed North Fork locale,” the chef explained. “We use fresh, local ingredients to create Mediterranean-inspired dishes that truly shine on their own. Plus, I love to mix sweet and savory, because I love to cook as much as I love to bake.”
Wine director François Latapie’s approachable wine list offers a local focus as well, featuring picks from Long Island wineries like Wölffer Estate and Kontokosta among its more than 50 selections. Latapie visited the region’s wineries to develop the list, and Payard looks to maintain close ties to Long Island’s producers going forward. Southold Social offers plenty for fans of French wine too, such as Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, Provence rosé, Beaujolais, Burgundy and Bordeaux. Half-bottle and magnum selections add even more options to the list.
“With the abundance of local wineries and fresh, hyperlocal ingredients from the land and sea,” Payard said, “I want people to see Southold for the food lovers’ destination that it is.”