The East End of Long Island has so much to offer, even when the summer is over. As native New Yorkers, we make trips to various areas of the “east end” no matter what time of year it is. Typically, we keep to a travel pattern: North Fork for wine tasting and South Fork for surfing and Hamptons Glitz. This time we decided to do something different and hit up the South Fork for a combination of wine tasting and dinner at one of the more famous restaurants in the Hamptons.
Equipped with a basket full of snacks from Whole Foods, we were ready for the ride out. By the time we got to Sunrise Highway-Route 27 in Southampton, we hit some unusual traffic. Unusual because the summer had long been over and Fall was in full effect. We couldn’t believe the amount of people on the road!
Then again, maybe we should have known better. Fall in the Hamptons may be its best kept secret. Once all of the tourists, socialites, rich, famous and paparazzi have left, local Long Islanders get their “east end” back. The pumpkin farms, apple orchards and roadside farmsteads come to life with the Fall’s best crops, and Long Island families make their way out to rejoice in its splendor.
There are three wineries (give or take) on the South Fork… slim pickins in comparison to the 30 or so on the North Fork. If you want to hit up both Forks of the Island, you can always take the ferry from one to the other through Shelter Island. A fun and scenic excursion in and of itself.
Our first stop was Duck Walk in Water Mill. A large scale, commercialized wine factory of the highest degree. The very pretty country façade and beautiful grounds lured us in. The main tasting room was packed with people. Finding a space at the bar was nearly impossible. We squeezed M into the bar to represent the group and grab some glasses to pass down. We sampled a ton of varieties. Most were just OK, but all contained alcohol, so we still left as happy campers. In the end we were looking for something a little quainter… back in the car!
The next stop was Channing Daughters in the absolutely beautiful Bridgehampton. This was certainly what we were looking for. The vineyard is sprawling, and the winery is constructed in the typical South Fork post-and-beam style. We were surprised by the variety of wines they had to offer. The people conducting the tastings were informed and pleasant. We walked out of the vineyard with a few purchases, feeling happy and enlightened.
We reached the last stop on our tour, Wölffer Estate, late in the day. By the time we arrived, the sun was starting to go down and the vineyard was nearly empty. No more wine tasting! Well, we thought, we will just buy a bottle… With a bottle of a bubbly Blanc de Blanc in hand, we sat on a picnic bench in the back of the vineyard and devoured our snacks. The mixture of food, bubbly, and breath-taking views made for a perfect afternoon.
Nearly full from snacking, we packed up and headed to Trata East back in Water Mill. The Mediterranean restaurant is part of a three restaurant chain, including locations in Roslyn and Manhattan. Famous for its fresh fish, flown in daily from the Mediterranean, Trata portrays itself as a reproduction of a seaside Greek restaurant. For 2 Plus 2, besides the fresh seafood, this was where the authenticity ended. The meal was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Drink specials were not so special… half of the menu items were out of stock… and some of the worst service we have had in a long time were the highlights (or low-lights) of the meal. A not so happy end to an otherwise enchanting day.
www.liwines.com Open Year Round
Long Island is filled with vineyards… New York’s answer to Napa! While the North Fork of Long Island is home to the vast majority of wineries and has a very country, rustic charm, don’t leave out the South Fork… it has something to add to the scene. Home of the infamous, socialite filled ‘Hamptons’ and the famous waves of Montauk, the South Fork has its dedicated following of fans. On a Saturday morning, jump in the line of cars driving (or crawling) down Route 27. There is one lane in and one lane out… and you will swear that you can get out and walk faster than your car… and you are probably right… but don’t turn around… it will all be worth it.
Growing up spending summers in East Hampton, you know that there is nothing better than when you pass the Southampton Burger King and you know that you are almost there… welcome to the Hamptons! Their are three vineyards on the South Fork, the first one being the most well known, Duck Walk Vineyards. Then, just off the main drag lie Channing Daughters and Wolffer Estates. We hit all three on this beautiful autumn day.www.duckwalk.com
Probably the most popular vineyard on the South Fork. Could it be because it is the first stop, or the amount of advertising they do? It just seemed too set-up, and manufactured for us. The outside looks more like a factory then a vineyard. Inside you will find vaulted ceilings and nice paintings on the wall.
The tasting felt very rushed. The staff member was just reading off the sheet that was in front of her, pouring the wine and moving on to the next group. There is no real conversation about each wine… even if you wanted to ask any questions, she wasn’t there to answer it.
Based on the volume of people at this place, one would think the wine is really good; however, after the tasting, none of us could really figure out why this is the most popular of all on the South Fork. Maybe advertising really does trick the mind into thinking something is good. They do have a couple of pluses; the back patio, nice labels, and a big bathroom, no waiting.
Notable mentions include…
- Sauvignon Blanc Gold Medal 2009- Light and fresh
- Blue Duck Cabernet Sauvignon 2007- Heavy, full body
- Aphrodite 2008- Late Harvest Gewurztraminer Dessert Wine
- Blueberry Port 2007- A fruity flavorful port
From the relaxed and rustic decor, to the friendly staff (host Ron was knowledgeable) and gorgeous vine backdrop, this place is worth a look based on ambiance alone. Acres of vineyards surround the quaint main tasting room. The only winery we’ve been to that gives a tasting ‘time’ when you enter, allowing each group to receive a personalized experience, rather than jamming as many people as possible around the counter.
Channing Daughters offers a great variety of wines! Hands down they have the best and most diverse selections of the South Fork and some of the tastiest reds we’ve had on Long Island, which are very hard to find. They definitely specialize in great, artistic blends! Many wines require four or more types of grapes to produce the final product.
Even the bottle labels were beautifully done and unique… so much so that we picked out a bottle of Channing Daughters from across the bar in Brooklyn a week later. Now that is good marketing…
- Sylvanus 2008- Amazing! A vin de terroir… a combo of Muscat, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanco.
- Mudd 2006- Spicy, medium-body feel with full flavor taste. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blaufrankisch and Dornfelder.
- Meditarione- Yummy skin-fermented white that smells like flowers, but is not sweet.
- Rosso Fresco 2008- A tasty everyday red wine with a mix of Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Dornfelder
- Pazza- A Port-style wine, perfect for after dinner sipping
The drive into this place is one of the best parts. You forget for a moment that you’re on Long Island. It feels as though you are pulling into a vineyard, just off the road in Italy. The vines are all around you!
Inside the Tuscan-style winery, you can find the tasting room to try some of the many Wölffer wines, or simply head over to the wine stand to select a bottle of your preference. They also offer table service and invite you to sit out back with the vines. The patio area is picture perfect, especially during sunset. Grab a bottle and some cheese and enjoy the view (BYOC = bring your own cheese!).
- Blanc de Blanc- Light, flavorful and refreshing sparkling white
A: The South Fork holds a special place in my heart. Although there are only 3 vineyards, the wines at Channing Daughters make the trip worth it. I will definitely be back to ‘picnic’ on the Wölffer Estates (it was so beautiful!) and sip on some yummy, sparkling Blanc de Blanc!
K: It’s hard to find a good Long Island red. Often, they’re so “earthy” they just taste like plain dirt to me. When people compare the Long Island wine region to Bordeaux, I can’t help but laugh. Maybe they both have a “maritime climate,” but all I know is I love a Bordeaux, and I’m not too keen on LI reds. While I’ve been to the North Fork vineyards nearly a dozen times, this was my first trip to the South Fork vineyards. Thanks to Channing Daughters, I think I finally found a hint of a Bordeaux-quality wine on Long Island. My favorite, though, was certainly the sparkling Blanc de Blanc at Wölffer Estate.
L: Stick to the North Shore for wine tasting if that is the real reason why you are taking the trip out to eastern Long Island. I am not sure if Channing Daughters or Wolffer have vineyards or tasting rooms on the North shore, but they should.
M: The best part of the day was when we opened the picnic basket full of snacks and had our own picnic by the vines at Wölffer Estate. We missed the tasting there (since it was our last stop), but somehow found the best wine they offered. Next time we might just have to skip Duckwalk and go straight to the last two. Spend the day vineyard hopping between both.
- The Scene- Lovely country scenery
- Food/Drinks- 3: Pleasantly Surprised!
- Tip Worthy-N/A
Coordinates- 3.5 Located in close proximity to pumpkin picking, fresh flowers and produce, and the Hamptons!
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green light!
- Price- Bottles range from $15 to $40 each; Tastings range from $5 to $8.
Dinner- 2+2 (+1)www.trata.com Greek, Wine/Cocktails, Suffolk
While none of us have been to Greece, we certainly have had daydreams about the picturesque Mediterranean coastline, full of white-sand beaches, and crystal-blue waters; the smell of fresh seafood wafting through the salty air. Sigh….
In a way, the ambiance of Trata embodies that vision, but in a more Hamptonified kind of way. Upscale Trata (including the astronomical prices on the menu) is certainly more of a New York interpretation of Greek dining than one might actually find in a typical Taverna on the beaches of Mykonos. As many have probably read in recent articles about Greece’s economic state, one can deduce that the people of Greece don’t go to fancy restaurants and pay in excess for their cuisine. Generally, Europeans cook at home and only venture out for fine (or close to fine) dining on special occasions. If restaurants like Trata exist in Greece, and most likely they do, they are probably meant to cater to tourists, and do not represent the authenticity of a Grecian dining experience.
Trata planned well; they achieved the New York restaurant trifecta: the Hamptons, Roslyn, and the Upper East Side. The locations were chosen carefully, with intentions to appeal to a few different kinds of New Yorkers: those with larger pocketbooks, those who are willing to pay a lot to see and be seen, and those who really just want the freshest seafood, prepared with the utmost care with the expectation of dining in style. After all, Trata receives fresh seafood daily, flown right from the Mediterranean. It is amazing how they are able to manage this, especially among three restaurants, but this is their mission, and what sets them apart.
When 2+2 decided to dine at this restaurant, we all had the expectation that comes along with dining in the Hamptons: great food, stellar service, and a chic ambiance. Sure, we were planning this dinner post-summer-in-the-Hamptons season, but after all, this is one of three Trata restaurants, they need to be “on” at all times to continue the integrity of the restaurant group. On Trata’s website, there is a link entitled “Attitude.” Here you can find what appears to be Trata’s mission statement: Your food will be exceptional, the service will be seamless. But your experience will be much more. We could all agree that our experience was sub-par, at best.
After a long day of South Fork Wine Tasting (and a lot of snack eating), we headed over to Trata. Before dinner, we decided on some cocktails at the bar. When we asked for a drink list, we learned there was none. No cocktail list? One can find a cocktail list at the local pub! When K asked for a cocktail with a basis of tequila, she literally had to dictate the entire drink to the bartender. Isn’t that one of the sole responsibilities of the bartender: tasty, creative cocktails? As K+M dined at both the Trata in the Hamptons and Roslyn prior to this experience, they were hoping for an equally stellar experience. But no drink list? Strike one.
After we were seated, we waited longer than necessary for the waitress to come over and take our drink order. The boys ordered some simple seltzers, which they ended up having to wait 15 or so minutes for (and after a friendly reminder). 15 minutes for seltzer? Strike two.
We were given plenty of time to peruse the menu, as our waitress was relatively absent for most of our dinner. Once she returned to take our order, it was only then she decided to inform us about the lack of options on the menu that evening. After all that time, now we needed to revise! Then, after attempting to order one of the listed cocktails on the dinner menu (the Pomegranate Martini), our waitress told us that was no longer an option. Was it really difficult to mix vodka, pomegranate liqueur, and some pomegranate puree? And even if there was no pomegranate available, couldn’t she have suggested a similar alternative? She explained that it was the last night of the season and the restaurant would close until next summer. Strike three.
All we could think of was how unacceptable it is for any restaurant to NOT perform their best, under any circumstances, especially when there are 2 other restaurants in the group open year-round. The lack of menu options and poor, careless service only made the overall experience disappointing, frustrating, and full of large, gaping seams.
This dinner barely began and there were too many errs already. K+M were feeling pretty sheepish after they had talked a big game about this restaurant. Our prior experiences really were stellar! K’s summer Saturday at Trata was nearly mind-blowing– and now, disappointment. Trata struck out!
The appetizer: we ordered a sampling of the Greek spreads with came with warm pita bread for dipping. The spreads were delicious. We cleaned the plate quickly. Unfortunately, we realized later that we were charged for the extra pita we requested. That seemed unnecessary after the long wait-time for everything, disorganization, and disappointment after not being able to get certain menu items because they no longer had them!
Our dinner was just OK, but it was really difficult to get over our sub-par experience at this point. It is true that the service can make or break the meal, no matter how delicious the food. Our meals were almost tasteless, because our overall experience had been so lackluster.
Drinks (From the Bar)
- Grey Goose on the rocks (A)
- Beer (L)
- Tequila on the rocks with lemon and lime (K)
- Grey Goose and Soda (M)
- Pikilia- Sampling of 5 homemade traditional spreads: Tarama, Tzatziki, Skordalia, Htipiti, Melizanosalata, with Grilled Pita Bread (2 + 2)
- Wild Tiger Shrimp from East Africa (A)
- Whole grilled fish of the day (K)
- Whole grilled fish for two (L+M)
- Roasted Lemon Garlic Potatoes (2+2)
- Hand cut French Fries with Oregano and Sea Salt (2+2)
Dessert and Coffee
- Karidopita- Walnut Cinnamon Cake soaked in Warm Honey, Orange and Lemon Syrup, with Raspberry Sauce and Cinnamon Ice Cream (2+2)
- Flourless Chocolate Cake (2+2)
- Cappuccino (A)
- Coffee (L)
- Espresso (M)
A: I wanted so bad to love this place! K always picks fabulous locales and she had such a great time previously. But, this place was HORRIBLE! The staff was absent or checked out mentally, if they were actually there in body. Everything you wanted… water (at the beginning of the meal and throughout), a cocktail, a napkin, to place your order… you had to literally stalk our waitress Paula (or any other staff when she disappeared) with your eyes until they looked in your direction and then wave at them. They would NOT come to your table for any reason at any time otherwise. When I received my lack luster food, it was completely dried out. Two large shrimp had a market price of $50 bucks… and they were barely edible. I have never spent more money on such a crappy experience ever… and it didn’t even include cocktails… because the waitress never took a drink order! I finished the meal with a cappuccino that was so weak it seemed as though they ran 5 other espressos through the coffee first… ugh.
K: This was my third time dining at Trata; the second time in the Hamptons, and once in Roslyn. The first two times I had stellar experiences, but the third visit was rather despicable. Our waitress was disinterested, unmotivated, and generally quite absent, to say the least. Even though I had 2 amazing experiences, I always use my third experience as the final test as a mark of consistency. Sadly, I’m not sure if I’ll be dining at any of the Trata restaurants after this. And this is why it’s important to consider the other restaurants in your group before taking on the “we’re closing tomorrow” mentality.
L: There is not much more to say than this place was a complete disappointment. The fish may have been flown in from the Mediterranean but there was nothing differentiating it from any other whole fish I have had. It was bland, tasteless and more than overpriced (an understatement). To top it off, the food took forever to come out and the service was terrible. With so many fresh fish options in Long Island (and in this area in particular), I don’t see any reason to come back here.
M: So mad. Loved this place in Roslyn. The lack of caring by all the staff members just because it was the last days of the season was ridiculous. A place like this should always do their best. If you are going to charge that much for food you can’t have service like that. They should have just been closed if they didn’t care. Guess the best time to go to Trata in this location is at the start of the summer season. The food was good but I was just to pissed about the service to enjoy it fully.
- The Scene- Clean, modern mixed with fishing gear
- Food/Drinks- 2: Edible- The Dessert is what scored this place a winning score of ’2′ (cue the sarcasm)
- Tip Worthy- 1: Was that serious?! Nada!- It took every ounce of decency to not leave the waitress a ‘tip’ to get another job! You would think that the terrible service had to do with cockiness, but we think it was just pure stupidity. These people didn’t have any idea what they were doing.
- Coordinates- 2: State- Bring your GPS. In the Hamptons, but not anywhere near the main towns.
- Restaurant Return Rate- Red Light! Never!
- Price per person- $80 for no alcohol or drinks, a shared plate of hummus between 5 people, an entree and a shared dessert