Located inside the 16-room Menhaden hotel, Greenport’s newest restaurant is not aiming for the same old dining experience. With lounge and bar seating, The Merchant’s Wife offers casual small-plate dining paired with craft beers, local wines and specialty cocktails.
“After dining and drinking extensively in the village, we wanted to deliver something different — something that feels swanky yet local, with shareable fare at an approachable price point,” said owner Kristen Pennessi.
With an emphasis on seasonally sourced, farm-to-table fare, the menu was developed in collaboration with the owners, a consulting chef who is a Todd English alum, and head chef Tara Nicosia, with the goal of showcasing as many local ingredients as possible. Summer selections include seared jumbo sea scallops, lamb sliders, bronzino and an assortment of flatbreads and salads. Brunch is also served on weekends with menu items such as breakfast pizza and lemon ricotta pancakes. All the dishes are priced below $25 and the goal is to remain open year-round, said general manager Kristen Bowman.
“The price is really great because you get wonderful food that is attainable,” she said. “The idea is social, for people to come and have a small bite and a drink. It is substantive without being heavy.”
The ambiance matches the laidback culinary approach, with a modern-yet-moody setting. The seating is flexibly arranged to suit different gatherings — two long banquettes with small tables lend themselves to lounge-style dining, while marble tabletops create more of a traditional dinner setting. The black-and-white decor is complemented by hand-painted botanicals that span from floor-to-ceiling courtesy of local artist Kara Hoblin.
“We’ve always admired Kara Hoblin’s chalk art so it was exciting to work with her on a more permanent piece incorporating native botanicals,” Pennessi said.
In addition to The Merchant’s Wife, The Menhaden, which opened Memorial Day weekend at the corner of Front and Third streets, also has a grab-and-go café, offering a selection of fresh-squeezed juices, cold brew and tea on tap, and an array of salads, sandwiches and other items driven by the kitchen’s rotating menu.
“The intent is for it to be an extension of the restaurant,” Bowman said.
The light-filled café, which is open to the public, has a modern lounge feel with nautical undertones hidden throughout, combining clean lines, black lacquer and brass finishes with historic artifacts that were found during the property’s construction, including bricks, bottles, horseshoes and a mast from one of Greenport’s whaling ships.
The café also hosts a variety of special events, including butchery demonstrations and pop-up retail shops by other North Fork businesses, such as Croteaux Vineyards and Lumber + Salt.
The final component of The Menhaden dining experience is the rooftop bar, featuring two fire pits, a bar and bird’s eye views of Greenport Harbor and Shelter Island. Typically reserved for hotel guests, it occasionally opens to the public for special events throughout the year. It also hosts morning yoga classes every Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. through Labor Day. The classes are hosted by North Fork Yoga Shala, weather permitting, and are open to the public. Sign up here.