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Southold Social is now open on Main Road in Southold at the former home of Caci. (Credit: David Benthal)

Southold Social by Francois Payard, which is now open on Main Road in the space formerly occupied by Caci, is a collaboration of several North Fork culinary staples. 

Southold Social feels like the product of a North Fork dream team. It’s run by both Francois Payard (Southold General) and Adam Lovett (A Lure and aMano).

The completely renovated restaurant, with its eclectic menu of crudo, pasta, steak and traditional seafood, feels both high-end and yet welcoming to both locals and North Fork visitors alike. Natural light flows liberally into the dining room, with soft colors throughout and art by local luminary Charles Wildbank adorning the walls. A tent will soon be installed for outdoor dining on an extended patio.

The lawn space at Southold Social, where a tent is planned. (Credit: David Benthal)

The concept for Southold Social came when Lovett got to know Payard’s style of work by spending time at Southold General and felt it was a good fit.

“As soon as I met [Payard] I liked him,” Lovett said. “He’s an inspiring, passionate chef, hardworking, driven, he’s easy to get along with — everything you would want from a talented chef, absolutely. All of the good and none of the bad.”

Payard, a James Beard Award winning chef from Paris, approached Southold Social with locals in mind.

“The idea was to keep the feel of the North Fork here. You never choose the customer, they choose you,” he said. “[The locals] are your bread and butter. That’s very important.”

Manager Iris Welcome added that they also have kept the menu “at a very palatable price point.”

Payard worked to create a menu that would “please a lot of people,” he said. The pasta menu, with items like cacio e pepe, housemade cavatelli and black squid ink linguine, was an easy choice for Payard, as the kitchen was outfitted for pasta when it was Caci. Payard is particularly excited about the crudo options, which include salmon with hearts of palm, radishes and jalapeño miso dressing. 

The restaurant’s menu may have Payard’s signature spectacular creations, but he considers the restaurant casual.

“After [Southold General] I’ve learned what people here want and like,” he said. “They want a great experience. They want to have a city-style restaurant without the high price. I tried to keep it low, keep everything simple, that’s my goal. At the end of the day, people will tell you if they love it or not.”

Lovett echoed the sentiment.

“It’s not revolutionary,” he said. “There’s just not a lot of restaurants doing this eclectic [selection]. I think the menu has got a little bit for everybody.” 

The bar, with a selection of both American and French wines and top-shelf spirits, will soon be outfitted with a television, something Payard pushed for.

“They say, ‘it’s not fancy!’ I say, I don’t want to be fancy. You can come in shorts. You spend money, you can come in anything,” he joked.

Southold Social by Francois Payard is located at 56125 Main Road in Southold.