A gibbous moon hung suspended in a darkening sky, shoots of light arcing through the slumbering season’s cloudcast. I turned the music down in my car; the sound of gravel grumbled comfortably beneath my tires as I pulled in, a slumbering fountain to my left my first herald.
Before me, a stunning example of Italianate architecture, an ornate style with Classical roots and exuberant branches: clean lines and symmetry bedecked with detailed ornamentation that can only come from proud home ownership. Beneath blue and gray roofing, neat siding of honeydew green, punctuated by teal shutters and coral accents that mirror the chimney bricks. Tall windows and a cupola enhanced the feeling of grandeur that drew the eye up to colorfully bracketed eaves.
I had arrived at Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport, one of the most historical, well-preserved and -awarded, storied properties on Long Island.
Many Long Islanders know of this backyard gem as a dream wedding venue, its rustic barn’s exposed beams often festooned in fairy lights, echoing the Edison bulbs of the vine-draped walkway. It’s a sight that lends itself to photos that charm from its stark, bare winter grays to its lush summertime greens. In those verdant seasons, it’s not uncommon for white tents to pop up mushroom-like on its sprawling lawn, often by the oversized gazebo near vineyards just beyond.
For most others, it’s a dining destination for discerning palates. Its seasonal menu delights with each reincarnation, featuring fresh-from-the-farm produce, local seafood, and quality cuts of meats prepared by experienced chefs who hold no flavor back. And its renowned basement speakeasy bar? The stuff of legends. Are its secret passages a clue to its use as a stop on the noble Underground Railroad? Or was Mr. Hawkins in fact a gunrunner and a rogue? Nobody can confirm.
But for those in the know, it’s also a retreat from suburban mundanity, an escape into the essence of elegant country life on Long Island. This time, I was one of them. Instead of day-tripping to the North Fork, I was staying in one of its six sumptuous suites, traveling back in time to an era of genteel luxury.
As I checked in at the front desk, I felt a sense of rising excitement to find out which room had been booked for me. As a designer showcase property, each accommodation was unique to different designers’ visions as they were given free reign during the restoration. Was it to be Richard Schlesinger, Giovanni Naso, Betsy Nichol, or Lynn Gerard’s imagination I’d be walking into off the main staircase? The sophisticated furnishings and hand-painted mural, Marilyn Monroe theme over countryside views, vintage and rosy romance, and traditional luxury, respectively, all intrigued. Or would I be in the heart of the action in the ground-floor, ADA accessible Indigo Room, whose decor cemented a sense of place by channeling the Peconic?
No matter which I’d be laying my head in, a fireplace, Frette spa robes, Malin+Goetz bathroom amenities, a personal Nespresso machine, North Fork potato chips, and Italian sheets on a stuffed-to-bursting mattress would be waiting for me.
But first: dinner.
There’s a fine selection of venues in Jamesport--Grana is a personal favorite for its authentic Neapolitan pies and fresh-made pasta, and Main Road Biscuit Company has become a daytime staple in the area. But how could I resist the lure of the aromas wafting through the inn from its bustling kitchen, the intimate candle-lit tables set in frescoed rooms before roaring fireplaces? I sat down to craft cocktails to start with, a steaming-hot sourdough loaf for the table, and a menu that rendered decision-making impossible.
Starting light, I chose the sweet and refreshing harvest salad with butternut squash and apples, and skipped appetizers, eschewing the celebrated duck wings for the half-duck entree--exceptional with any of the fruit gastriques they rotate between. The short ribs were a delight, falling apart in a bowl with roasted roots, and the dessert list forced me to find room. The apple cobbler, hot in a mini cast-iron plate, was at once tender and crisp; the lava cake, a pool of satisfying darkness.
I rolled upstairs, rotund and stuffed to the brim--if not for the glamour of the rooms, it’s this convenience that makes an overnight well worth considering!
The next morning found me in the solarium, served by the same friendly staff members from check-in and last night’s feast. An included gourmet multi-course breakfast began with an expertly foamed cappuccino and a hot chocolate croissant, laminated and baked in-house. Next, a choice of eggs your way; French toast or pancakes, depending on the chef’s mood; or a French omelet du jur, where ingredients are nestled between smooth folds of egg. All were served with a bowl of fruit, thick-cut bacon, and sublime truffled smashed home fries (or lightly dressed greens by request).
Feeling like all was right with the world, I moved into my writer’s retreat for the remainder of the day--the acclaimed Belvedere Suite.
No pictures can do justice to this brilliantly designed space, where every inch invites cozy comfort and a sense of safety and warmth. Agreeably creaky floorboards groaned good-naturedly under my steps in the living room, where an imposing desk set in a patch of sunlight before a sofa and Smart TV invited me to plug in. A smaller staircase that twirled up into the tower, furnished with a bistro set, provided another ideal remote office; its 360-degree views ready for a daydream. But the bedroom, with its shabby-chic floral couch, raw wood.
ceilings, plush rugs, canopy bed, and around-the-wall bench seating … be still my heart; I felt more than just a flutter. Because even at the memory, there’s a strong pull to return. To come back to the lure of peace, serenity, and exquisite taste in every sense, from bite to sight. A better home than home, just a short drive away from Patchogue.