Lia Fallon has served up eclectic, creative dishes at some of Long Island’s top restaurants, including Jedediah Hawkins in Jamesport, Brewology in Speonk, the now-shuttered Riverhead Project and her own former Wading River spot, Amarelle.
After becoming a personal chef, she had no plans of taking on the role of a restaurant executive chef again. That is, until a friend connected her with Linda Ringhouse and Irene Dougal, the owners of Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport, and the trio immediately hit it off. Fallon, 48, started consulting in August and came on board full-time in October to launch the fall menu and now an early winter menu.
Ringhouse, a Bayport resident who opened the farm-to-table eatery with Dougal in 2008, said that having Fallon join the team is “incredibly exciting.”
“It’s not easy to find the right person,” Ringhouse said.
I recently sat down with Fallon to talk about her career, her culinary style and plans for the restaurant’s menu.
What’s your process for coming up with new ideas for menus?
I have a bottle of wine and gather my thoughts on what I’ve done, because I don’t want to repeat what I’ve done. And I think about what’s fresh, what’s local. Sometimes I fly off the seat of my pants. I work better under pressure, I guess.
You recently started something called Sunday Scene. What’s that about?
[Grey Horse Tavern] always used be open from 11am-8pm. We had a brunch menu and then turned it over to a dinner menu.
One thing I said was, “How cool would it be to have just one big Sunday brunch and have a couple of lunch and dinner items and have the menu all day long?” Linda and Irene loved it…We’re doing it 10am-7pm. [W]e have a bunch of musicians coming, there’s a set band schedule every week, and then other musicians are going to stop in and do like a jam session.
The menu has some breakfast items, brunch items, sandwiches for lunch and then dinner, but more of a light dinner, where you can get steak and eggs and stuff like that. The whole day is geared toward brunch, but there are some dinnery kind of brunch items.
Another new feature at the restaurant is what you’re calling the Sunday Roast. How does that work?
It’s from 4-7pm and every week I’ll have a different roast. The price will change and the roast will change every week. Sometimes it may be a starter. Sometimes it may be a dinner and dessert.
At a time when there weren’t many women chefs on the scene, after high school you started a day spa that expanded from a room inside a racquetball club to a full-service operation in Stony Brook. What made you finally decide to become a chef full-time?
I had that [spa] business for 22 years. I had 15-17 employees and they were my family. They would come over for holidays. Every Friday and Saturday I’d do fresh baked goods and we’d have champagne and cheese on Friday night for happy hour. That’s what I loved to do. That’s what I wanted to do—cook. I [also] did some catering for customers.
I’ve seen your style as a chef described as innovative and eclectic. How would you put it?
I would say the same thing. My style is not fancy at all. I like doing more casual fine dining. Great food, great ingredients. I don’t use a lot of molds or flowers. I would say I’m rustic, country kind of food. Just great ingredients, as local as possible and everything is made from scratch.
What can we look out for in the early winter menu, which comes out Dec. 1?
I definitely like braised short ribs and beef bourguignon—I love doing that—but nothing is set in stone.