The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
Summer dining al fresco on Long Island is usually a seafood-heavy affair — clams on the half shell, steamed lobster, grilled fish. And that’s fine by me. But I have one friend, a frequent dining companion, who simply does not like fish. At The Fifth Season in Port Jefferson, she was as happy as the rest of our fish-loving foursome.
Just across Route 25A from Port Jefferson harbor, The Fifth Season has a shady, gracious porch and even the small indoor dining room is full of windows. It’s a perfect summer venue. Also a reasonably priced one. A $29.95 three-course prix-fixe menu is in effect all evening Sunday through Friday and from 5 to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Two of our party had the prix fixe. Landlubber started with a fine salad of roasted beets, baby arugula, blue cheese and candied walnuts and then proceeded to a duo of flat iron steak, one piece braised in Port Jefferson Brewing company porter, the other grilled and topped with parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Mr. Landlubber had the deeply clammy (if also rather potato-y) New England chowder and oven-roasted fluke served over broccoli rabe.
I started with a chopped salad made with that underappreciated green, butter lettuce. It was made more wonderful by the addition of roasted corn, house-cured bacon, fingerling potatoes and a buttermilk dressing. Another winner: pan-seared scallops on a bed of grits flavored with chorizo sausage, scallions and smoked chili-lime butter. Less successful was spaghetti with clams oreganata — overdone spaghetti, soupy broth, an unpleasant mantle of cheese over the proceedings.
Among desserts, the cornmeal cake was dry; the Concord grape jam and almond butter “pie” turned out to be turnovers that had too small a filling-to-crust ratio. But we enjoyed the s’mores cheesecake and the bright purple blueberry sorbet.
As implied by its name, The Fifth Season has a seasonal menu. We caught the new summer menu but as the days shorten, summer berries will no doubt give way to apples.
The Fifth Season is at 34 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson, 631-477-8500, thefifth-season.com.