The Lake House
240 W. Main St. Bay Shore, NY 631-666-0995
Cozy, charming, elegant and pretty lively, too, The Lake House stands out for its waterside setting, delicious food and overall experience. Credit Eileen and Matthew Connors -- they are co-owners, he's the chef.Hours: Dinner Tuesday to Sunday, from 5 p.m. Closed Monday. Reservations recommended. Notable dishes: Wild mushroom braised beef agnolotti, wild mushroom risotto, roasted wild striped bass, butter-poached lobster, rack of lamb, blueberry-peach cobbler, warm chocolate souffle, cheese plate.
Unpretentious, unfussy and unheralded, one of the year's best restaurants has opened in Bay Shore. Situated on Main Street, its back to Lawrence Lake, this delightful newcomer deserves to be packed every night, both for its generous style and excellent new American cooking. Finding The Lake House is like coming up with a truffle. It's a good-looking spot, with subtle, green-striped fabrics and light beadboard, some contemporary artwork, a curved wood bar, a fireplace and, of course, that soothing water view. This is all overseen with great care by co-owner and chef Matthew Connors, formerly chef de cuisine of Veritas in Manhattan, and his spouse, Eileen Connors, who is co-owner and smoothly runs the dining room. It marks their return to Long Island. He was born in Bay Shore, "two blocks from the restaurant"; she's from Hampton Bays. Connors and sous chef Charles Treadwell, also a graduate of Veritas and Gramercy Tavern, bring in accents of Italian, Asian, New England and more to build The Lake House menu, a refined selection that changes frequently. But look for the lush wild mushroom agnolotti with braised beef and a heady black truffle emulsion; or the wild mushroom risotto with peas, Parmesan cheese and truffle oil. Housemade pappardelle, with peas, Parmesan, shiitake mushrooms and braised duck, also shines. Full-flavored heirloom tomatoes spur a salad of greens and wax beans. Detour to the subtle littleneck clam chowder, with shiitakes, potatoes and a drizzle of chive oil. Continue the marine theme with a shrimp-driven seafood salad atop buckwheat noodles, finished with basil, olive oil and tomato water; or the well-seasoned tuna tartare, with a chile vinaigrette. The butter-poached lobster is luscious. At The Lake House, the construct of shelled meat rests on a savory union that includes corn, bacon and chanterelles in a basil emulsion. A delectable undercurrent of fennel sparks a main course of roasted wild striped bass in "bouillabaisse broth" with red pepper aioli, clams and Israeli couscous. Pan-seared halibut rests mildly on a white-bean ragout. And wild salmon tastes pretty tame with late-summer vegetables and gnocchi. But the meal gets going again with a tender, roasted rack of lamb on a goat-cheese-and-potato-leek gratin; and the grilled veal chop, accompanied by a little pot of mascarpone-and-Parmesan-spiked polenta and trumpet mushrooms. Juicy, pan-roasted chicken satisfies, paired with fingerling potatoes and oyster mushroom fricassee; and the combo of duck breast and housemade duck sausage with wild rice and cipollini onions benefits from a cherry-and-Port glaze. You'll enjoy a glass of Port with the cheese board, a modest but well-chosen course recently anchored by crumbly Stilton and creamy Brillat-Savarin, with a sliced pear and mini-baguette for company. Desserts are pure and subtle versions of homey sweets: a blueberry-and-peach cobbler, banana bread pudding, lemony cheesecake. The warm chocolate "souffle" and the pristine peach sorbet contribute more finesse. The Lake House has plenty.