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Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant review: Westbury seafood spot from star chef Tom Schaudel is the year's big catch

Butter-poached lobster with caramelized fennel and corn-and-tomato risotto is a lush main course at Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Westbury. Photo Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

The Vanderbilt, a luxury rental residence and hotel in Westbury, is home to star chef Tom Schaudel’s latest adventure in eating. It’s called Kingfish, a name that suits both establishment and restaurateur.

Schaudel, Long Island’s bandana-wearing, guitar-playing, outgoing impresario of the kitchen, has been a force in defining dining out in Nassau and Suffolk for four decades. He has owned...

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The Vanderbilt, a luxury rental residence and hotel in Westbury, is home to star chef Tom Schaudel’s latest adventure in eating. It’s called Kingfish, a name that suits both establishment and restaurateur.

Schaudel, Long Island’s bandana-wearing, guitar-playing, outgoing impresario of the kitchen, has been a force in defining dining out in Nassau and Suffolk for four decades. He has owned or advised scores of restaurants, anticipating trends and starting his own.

The current group includes Jewel and Be-Ju in Melville, A Mano in Mattituck and A Lure in Southold. Earlier hits include CoolFish in Syosset, Passionfish in Woodbury, Tease in Roslyn, 107 Forest Avenue in Locust Valley, Panama Hatties in Huntington Station and the Downtown Grille & Wine Bar in Montauk.

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His newest, polished, smart and flavor-packed production must be entered through the building’s main entrance. Parking is all valet. Pass the reception desk. Kingfish is straight ahead.

In full, Schaudel’s restaurant is Kingfish Oyster Bar & Restaurant. And it does include a handsome, modernist, centerpiece section brimming with bivalves, with booths behind it, and a more formal dining area to the side. The hues are pearly; the decor, taking in artful imagery of fish.

Schaudel’s familiar partners in this “Atlantic Rim” seafood showcase include executive chef Lenny Campanelli, general manager Adam Lovett, and daughter Courtney Schaudel, the operations manager.

So, down those oysters, from Wellfleets to Raspberry Points, Lucky 13s to Merlie Pearls, either on the half shell or grilled in their shells with Sriracha mayo. Sample the steamed mussels, finished with Thai red curry and lime. Enjoy tender calamari a la plancha. And definitely try the undersea “charcuterie,” a colorful combo plate boasting smoked bluefish pate, beet-cured gravlax, sea urchin custard, a marinated sardine and Champagne-and-orange smoked salmon.

There’s husky competition from meaty, tender Long Island duck wings, which benefit from a sweet chile glaze, Fresno pepper, and yogurt; and tempura-fried squash blossoms with a roasted mushroom salad.

An heirloom tomato salad with goat feta, and another one of local beets with smoked blue cheese and hazelnuts will lead you contentedly to a rich catch of main courses. The casual route brings you to “Tom’s lobster knuckle sandwich,” refreshing and generous; and “Lenny’s lobster roll,” a warm and buttery choice. Continue the lobster theme with an excellent butter-poached lobster, which arrives atop a corn-and-tomato risotto, accompanied by delectably caramelized fennel.

Pan-roasted striped bass tastefully swims in from Orient Point on mushroom-spinach risotto with roasted tomato relish; pan-roasted swordfish is fine with a similar risotto and relish. Fish and chips made with cod could serve two, snowy inside and crisply tempura fried, ready for some malty remoulade. Pan-roasted local black sea bass materializes with crab, corn and tomato pesto-basil broth. Pan-seared Atlantic salmon turns livelier than usual, enriched with black truffle aioli.

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Less appealing, however, are the house’s pastas. Penne with crab and tomato, and black linguine with octopus, calamari, tomato and red wine show up pretty pasty. Better is a marine update on the classic Roman dish fettuccine, sort-of-carbonara, sporting nubbins of razor clam.

If you’re adamant about skipping seafood, a special of thick, cinnamon-balsamic vinegar-brined pork chop with whipped parsnips and plum-and-nectarine compote; pan-roasted chicken; and steaks will do.

All desserts are recommended, from Key lime pie with expertly “torched” meringue to the blackberry crisp with coconut gelato and toasted coconut. They’re equalled by a spin on the ice cream sandwich, as lemon gelato partners with a fragile macaron, alongside fresh blueberries. The Rocky Road number stars “triple chocolate” gelato, chocolate cake, wet walnuts and marshmallow. And the goat’s milk ricotta budino lures you with candied pistachios, berries and little meringue kisses.

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