Farm to Table at Classic Shelter Island Destination

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Dining al fresco at the Ram’s Head Inn on Shelter Island.

By Rachel Bosworth

The official (unofficial) start of the summer on the East End is less than two months away, and seasonal restaurants are shaking off the dormant winter months as they prepare for the return of local patrons and summertime guests. In the middle of the two forks is Shelter Island; not quite Hamptons and not quite North Fork, but as much a destination of for all those who come to the East End. In one of the furthest points east is a historic restaurant and inn getting ready to open its doors for the summer season.

The restaurant at the Ram’s Head Inn on Shelter Island may have a rich, vast East End history, but not only the menu is new this spring. In February 2017, the restaurant announced its new executive chef, Matt Murphy. “Matt will complete the full fine dining/farm-to-table experience that we have provided our guests since the early 90’s,” says Linda Eklund, owner of the Ram’s Head Inn. “His passion for food and knowledge of the abundance of ‘local delicacies’ make him the perfect fit for the Ram’s Head,” she adds.

Grilled swordfish with mango relish at the Ram’s Head.

Though the menus are in the process of being completed, guests may expect a marrying of old classics and new favorites. The concept of the menu will be virtually the same, focusing on local seafood and produce. “[There will be] variations on the classic offerings; duck, lamb, etc., but with the chef’s personal twists,” Ms. Eklund says.

Menu items have included Crescent Farms duck breast with black forbidden rice, broccolini, and blackberries; herb crusted striped bass with hummus, ratatouille, and cured lemon buerre blanc; and pan seared jumbo sea scallops with succotash, smoked bacon, and oyster mushrooms. The dishes at the New American restaurant are known to change as the seasons do, offering a harmonious blend of traditional and non-traditional options.

The addition of Chef Murphy comes after years of fine dining experience in restaurants such as The Russia Tea Room, the restaurant at the Ritz Carlton, and Jedediah Hawkins Inn, among others. Having been born and raised on Long Island, he will work with local fishermen to offer the freshest seafood. His revamping of the brunch, lunch, and dinner menus will also showcase locally sourced produce and game, along with herbs, fruits, and vegetables harvested from the Ram’s Head Inn’s own gardens right on the property. “The gardens will not be in full swing when we open mid April, but we can expect that some of the herbs will be up and ready to use,” Ms. Eklund shares.

Chef Murphy has also created new items for the Ram’s Head Inn’s cocktail and music lounge bar menu, which the team finds to be a perfect complement to bar manager Harry Brigham’s seasonal cocktail menu. “I am really looking forward to kicking off the season at the Ram’s Head,” Chef Murphy says. “I think people will really love the new menu, which brings in the best of local fare and my own twists on classic dishes.”

The revamped wine list is in the process of being finalized as well. “Once the menu is set, our bar manager, Harry Brigham, and dining room manager, Dennis Smith, will set out to building the season’s wine list,” Ms. Eklund shares. “We will again offer regional wines and complement the list with representation from across the country and around the globe.”

The restaurant offers ample seating in the main dining room and Harbor Hall lounge, both with warming fireplaces during cooler weather. On sunnier days, dining is available on the patios overlooking the harbor. As the restaurants gets into full swing after Memorial Day, weekly music events will again take place. Sunday Jazz night features live music with pianist Jane Hastay, bassist Steve Shaughnessy, sax player John Ludlow, trumpet player Baron Lewis, and drummer John Cataletto with guest vocalists weekly. “Tunes and Tastings” will return in June to pair music and local wines.

The Ram’s Head Inn is located at 108 S. Ram Island on Shelter Island Heights and will reopen for the season on Friday, April 14. For reservations, or more information, call (631) 749-0811 or visit theramsheadinn.com.

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