It’s the opening that North Forkers have been griping about for three summers. The one they hated in advance, with its city chef and its renovation of a motel that had been owned by the same Greenport family since 1957—no matter that the brown-shag-carpeted rooms had become so sordid that numerous film and photo shoots took place here.
Surely, they speculated over cocktails on porches, boats, and beaches, the new Silver Sands would be what finally tipped the North Fork of Long Island into becoming the next Montauk, as each restaurant and hotel opening for the last decade has portended.
As someone who has been coming to the Fork for twice as long, I dreaded the June 30 opening, too. Silver Sands was one of the last affordable hotels on the Fork, and, with fishmarkets and farmstands like the ones that are so prevalent on this strip of Long Island, why would anyone go out to eat? Two bites in, I vowed to become a regular.
“I could paddleboard here every day!” said my friend, an excellent cook who has a house the next cove over. We rolled our eyes at Sunset Beach, across the bay on Shelter Island, and toasted our luck with a fun white wine from the Azores.
A spate of developer-backed restaurants and hotels have opened between Southold and Orient Point in recent years, but they’ve mostly overshot the mark with their fussy attempts to cater to New Yorkers. But making the North Fork attractive is not unlike cooking: when the ingredients are this perfect, you really don’t need to do much.
Enter chef-owner Ryan Hardy. He is adept at making the rich happy, giving them a downtown experience with an extensive wine list. After a stint at Aspen’s celebrated restaurant at the Little Nell hotel and working as Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s private chef in N.Y.C., he opened Charlie Bird in SoHo in 2013. The Italian-leaning menu and hip-hop-accented room and playlist continue to draw those curious about natural wines, but the city’s Burgundy aficionados, who pair rare bottles with Tuscan fried chicken, are among the restaurant’s animating forces.
Unicorn wines are as much of a draw as the perfect pizzas at the Italian-inspired Pasquale Jones in Nolita, which opened in 2016. The multi-level Legacy Records, which arrived in 2018, meets its wine-loving clientele (somewhat) closer to home. Hardy’s expertise can also be found in the skies—his company, Delicious Hospitality Group, handles the meals and wine pairings for certain JetBlue routes in its Mint cabin, to terrific effect.
For Hardy, who has such a devoted following and deep-cellared potential investors, the move to a hotel-restaurant project was the natural next step. In February 2020, Hardy and his partner, Alex Perros, who’s had a home on the North Fork for a decade, began working on the contentious deal on the more than 30-acre property, set around a private beach. It was completed in April 2022 for an undisclosed sum, and at the time Hardy and Perros were reported to have allocated an additional $4 million to rejuvenate the compound: a 20-room beachfront motel and 14 cottages. They encountered plenty of headaches, from smear campaigns over permitting to painstaking efforts to preserve the fragile wetlands.
Gone are the damp carpeting and wood paneling, replaced by a bright, beachy feel with optic-white paint, blond wood and wicker, pastel fabrics, and sculptural ceramic details. Hardy was careful to keep the easy spirit and many of the original features, including the signs, and to convert the original 20-seat diner near the front office, which had served as a laundry room since the 60s, into the snack bar Nookie’s, which will open in the fall.
He also did a light restoration of the boathouse, a barnlike space that the previous owners had used as a bar.
Maybe that’s because the front of house is, for this summer at least, the beach and bay. Eddie’s at Silver Sands is true outdoor dining of the feet-in-the-sand variety, with the central bar the only covered area, tucked beneath a majestic tree hung with lanterns. (Hardy, who studied accounting, looked at rain patterns for the past three years when making his financial projections.)
Whether one sips a Long Island 75 cocktail while sunning in an elegant lounge chair or pencils in the number of shrimp skewers the table wants to try for an early dinner (they currently take food orders until 8 p.m., when darkness sets in) on the order sheet, Eddie’s feels like a place apart—a vacation from your vacation.
For the most part, the dishes are either raw or grilled over wood and Japanese binchotan charcoal. “That’s one of the incredible benefits of getting such beautiful food,” says Hardy, who owned an organic farm while cheffing in Colorado—you don’t have to do much to make it sing. Until they’re able to design a full kitchen, he says with a laugh, they are making due with the basics—two induction burners, a grill, and a pizza oven.
Those limitations—not to mention access to such great ingredients, more than 80 percent of which are locally sourced, Hardy says—are yielding strong results.
To begin, it could be Montauk fluke crudo with pickled plums and cilantro, or oysters pulled from Pipes Cove, where the property sits. (In 2021, Hardy and Perros teamed up with Oysterponds Shellfish Co. to restart the Pipes Cove Oyster brand, which was established by the previous owner in the early 80s. They also worked together to breed the oysters to have a deeper cup, per Hardy’s preference. Today, there are estimated to be more than two million oysters in the cove, which supplies the chef’s restaurants.)
The menu changes almost daily, but the grilled porgy with salsa verde, lobster rolls with Old Bay aioli, and smash burgers are excellent, and the Neapolitan pizzas can be found on nearly every table. They come out of a state-of-the-art wood oven attached to the back of a food truck in the gravel driveway, not far from the bathroom trailer, which makes it all feel like a magical destination wedding.
The full transparency is endearing to the local resisters who have begun venturing onto the property. As they experience the food, the beach, and the boccie, one by one, they’re taking back what they’ve said.
Christine Muhlke, a former editor for The New York Times and Bon Appétit, is a co-author of Wine Simple, with Le Bernardin’s Aldo Sohm, and a co-author of Phaidon’s Signature Dishes That Matter. She is also the founder of culinary consultancy Bureau X and creator of the Xtine newsletter