The view at The Halyard is all sky and water, an expanse of the Long Island Sound with a sliver of the Connecticut shoreline to the north. In the early evening, people gather for a drink and watch as the sun slips into the sea. Blue becomes subtle layers of plum, and on some nights, the horizon lights up in a tangerine blaze. The Halyard, part of the Sound View Inn, is the only restaurant with front row seats to the North Fork’s famous sunsets.
“I love it here,” said Stephan Bogardus, the new executive chef, looking out over the sea from a table next to a large window. “I get to see this every day.”
Creating dishes that stand up to those sunsets is a challenge Bogardus took on with characteristic energy and enthusiasm, and once he jumped on board, the restaurant immediately gained acclaim. Previously at the North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, Bogardus made a name as one of the most talented young chefs on Long Island, doing high-end, imaginative food, and fans have followed him to his new gig. He’s also studied at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and worked with Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group.
Bogardus describes The Halyard menu as “salty seaside classics with a contemporary twist.” “We lure the guests in with the classics, and create a feeling of comfort,” he said. “Then we add touches of refinement and a slight modernization to the experience.”
A native who came of age as the North Fork evolved into a farm/sea-to-table destination, he has an intimate understanding of the culture. His lifelong connection with farmers and fishers give him access to the best product from suppliers like KK’s biodynamic farm and Southold Fish Market.
“I draw my menu inspiration from the seasons, along with time-tested classic flavor combinations. I think of an ingredient I want to highlight, flavors that play along with it, and techniques we’re excited about that have a fundamental alignment with the flavor elements. I also like to throw in something unique and unexpected into the overall dish, to have some fun with it. For instance, savory (the herb) has an assertive aroma. But when we marinate tomatoes in salt and vinegar with some shallot and savory, the salt extracts moisture, reduces flavor and creates a beautiful depth and roundness.”
Yes, he always talks like this about food. It’s an intense relationship.
Lobster rolls, grilled swordfish, clam chowder, shrimp cocktail, grass-fed beef and local duck are elevated with imaginative sauces, slaws and greens. The simple wine list strikes the right note in this wine-growing region, with local selections joined by a few well-chosen imports.
The Sound View, founded in 1953, was bought three years ago by Eagle Point Hotel Partners and is operated by Filament Hospitality, making it part of a larger portfolio that includes restaurants in Wyoming and California. Erik Warner, co-founder and lead partner, is a frequent visitor to the North Fork. This is a passion project, he said; he would drive by on his way to Shelter Island and think about how the old Sound View could keep its charms and heritage yet join the 21st century as a high-end destination on the “new“ North Fork. It just needed the right vision and resources.
Now, the place is totally renovated. The main dining areas have serene, white, grey and blue décor, and the piano bar and library room have kept their old-school nautical vibe. The Halyard is large, with more than 200 seats in five dining spaces, including a waterside deck. There’s also full room service to the 55 guest rooms, poolside lunch and snacks, and a catering program for on-site wedding receptions and events.
And now, with Bogardus at the helm, all the components are in place to make the vision a reality.
“The skills, creativity and experience that Chef Stephan brings to our operation are just the beginning of where we want to go with The Halyard and all of our food and beverage experiences,” Warner said.
“It’s a great fit,” said Bogardus. “Here, I can do what I want, within the scope of our brand and our emphasis on high quality. That’s my taste, too. I know some people expected me to make the same food I did before, but this has its own sense of place and a relaxed vibe, and I reflect that in the menu. I want people to come here, eat some great food and enjoy our incredible views. We have something special here, and we want to share it.”