The word “station” is defined as a regular stopping place on a public route, and everything about Station—the eatery tucked between Montauk Highway and Old Country Road in East Quogue—encourages the sojourner to stop and stay a while. Partners Marina Rutherfurd and Rafe Worthington have created a relaxed dining environment that effortlessly blends rustic and exotic.
“We’re definitely a departure from the ordinary,” says Rutherfurd, 25.
Before reaching the restaurant porch, guests stroll through a rambunctious garden bursting with sunchokes, hydrangea and morning glory. A living wall of greenery creates a botanical barrier between the restaurant and the highway. Hand-bent wooden armchairs from the Adirondacks—donated by a family member—are tucked into a leafy enclave. Nearby, a backgammon nook, with a whimsical game board designed by Worthington’s mother, invites you to play.
“We wanted to create this little oasis,” says Worthington, 29.
Inside, a mahogany community table sits at the center of a great room, flanked by intimate booths. A peaked, whitewashed ceiling is framed with dark beams. Ball jars filled with fresh-cut flowers adorn each table, and theatrical prints from the Ballets Russes line the walls. Wicker baskets brim with crusty house-baked bread.
“The feeling we try to evoke is not a commercial restaurant but a dining room,” says Worthington. “It’s our house that we’re welcoming people into.”
Station’s lobster avocado salad.
The structure was built in the 1960s and has housed a succession of restaurants. “It was all kitsch and fish tanks,” says Rutherfurd. Applying sweat equity and creativity, the couple, who both summered in Quogue growing up, took on the daunting transformation by doing much of the work by hand. They began the 2013 summer season with a space that expresses their personal passions, pleasures and collective experiences living abroad and working in design and publishing.
The heart of Station is the adventurous South American–inspired menu by executive chef Lucia Soria of Argentina. The couple learned of Soria’s work from a friend and cold-called to persuade her to sign on. Soria brought along head chef Agustina Gagliardi and a team of chefs from Argentina and Uruguay. Gagliardi says the food evokes Spanish and Italian influences found in their native Rio de la Plata. Popular entrées include gazpacho, grilled octopus, rib eye with chimichurri and salsa criolla and pork Milanese. Notes of citrus are evident. Braised chicken marinates in orange and white wine. Lamb chops are served with salsa verde. The summer menu also features local seafood. A decadent, dulce de leche ice cream with toasted coconut, macadamia nuts and brioche crumbs is a memorable sweet finish.
“Argentina has this amazing ability to blend cooking influences,” says Worthington. “South America is a melting pot even more so than the U.S.”
The burnished copper bar is the gateway to cocktails dubbed “Jollifications” that draw on bold South American influences. The Grand Poo Bah mixes tequila, red bell pepper, rosemary, salt and smoke, and the Thirsty Rooster offers a blend of chili pepper, cachaça, hibiscus, citrus and soda.
From left: Cristian Gonzalez, Santiago Martinez, Carolina Ferpozzi, Florencia Arismendi, Stefano Mastracchio, Agustina Gagliardi, Pilar Soria.
Rutherfurd and Worthington resist culinary labels and prefer an eclectic freedom, limited only by their imagination. “We’re not bound by any designation,” says Worthington. “We’re influenced by our travels, by things we taste and by conversations with Lucia.”
One might describe Station as a respite and a splash of armchair travel, liberally seasoned with global hospitality. “We’re privileged to share this kitchen,” Worthington says. “The things that really matter, which are taste and quality of life, that’s what we’re putting on the table.” •
The bar at Station.