The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
Nautilus Café was always notable for being on the wrong side of Woodcleft Avenue — that is, not overlooking the water on Freeport’s Nautical Mile. But now the restaurant has distinguished itself by being one of the first to reopen after the devastation of superstorm Sandy. As of Dec. 12, it has been open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner. (A mere two weeks after the storm, Jeremy’s Ale House, nearby on Woodcleft, was up and running.)
“It’s not so much that I’m not on the water,” said Nautilus’ owner, Brian Crofton, “it’s that I’m elevated, five steps up. Places across the street that were at water level got up to six feet of water in their dining rooms. I only got a foot.”
That foot of water meant that Crofton had to gut his dining room, replacing the walls, floor, insulation, electricity and air-conditioning, but he expects his flood insurance to cover most of that.
Crofton and his employees worked alongside his contractor to get the place open as soon as possible. “I didn’t want to lose my employees, my suppliers of my customers,” he said. Lunch has been “really good,” but dinner is tougher. “On weeknights you could shoot a cannon down this street.”
There are plenty of good reasons to visit Nautilus Café for weeknight dinner. Monday night Lobsterfest is a good one: For $60 total, two people get two 2-pound lobsters, plus a starter. Wednesdays are steak night and, for $29.95, each diner gets a choice of starter; a choice of prime rib, shell steak, marinated skirt steak or veal loin chop (each around 14 ounces), plus a choice of Brooklyn Brewery beer, house pinot noir or Grey Goose martini.
Nautilus Cafe is at 46 Woodcleft Ave. Freeport, 516-379-2566.