For a big man, Stephen Rosenbluth was moving quickly, speed being the hallmark of good restauranting these days. Stickers on the glass doors leading to the dining room still read Cardoon, and the giant Mediterranean-inspired mural outside needed replacing, but in every way that mattered, Rosenbluth’s eatery had already become what he’d long wanted, an upscale Seaford seafood shack called Anchor Down Dockside. Wait, isn’t that —
“People are getting confused,” he nodded, acknowledging that the name might be a touch similar to that of his other restaurant, Anchor Down. The latter, on Bayberry Ave. in Merrick, has amassed a loyal following among the clam-and-calamari set since its inception in 2016. And while Dockside’s menu is a similar medley of fish and shellfish, the place has one distinct advantage over its sister property — an outdoor deck on the Seaford canal with a pier to, yes, put one’s anchor down.
“There are three boat slips and already a lot of people are docking here,” said Rosenbluth, sitting under a large white tent he’d hastily erected on one end of the deck after hearing that outdoor dining had been moved from phase 3 to phase 2 of Long Island’s reopening. He and his team found themselves scrambling to redo Cardoon’s kitchen. Out went the crispy artichokes and trout taramasalata, in came the fried whole belly clams with sidewinder fries ($24) and lobster roll ($26), the crab- and shrimp-stuffed Montauk fluke ($30) and fisherman’s platter ($27). Only Cardoon’s popular falafel balls ($12), a perennial crowd-pleaser, remained.
“Let me make you some clams,” said Rosenbluth, bolting up, slaloming between tables with seating for 80 patrons — although only 34 may be occupied for now — and darting to the kitchen. The day was bright and sunny, a quiet breeze blew in from the canal. It occurred to us that there would be few better places for a sunset dinner, especially if Rosenbluth follows through on his plan to bring in an acoustic guitarist on select evenings.
The buttermilk-battered clams were revelatory. No really, they were. Bracing freshness, meltingly good. Even better, at least to this palate, were the crispy fish tacos ($15) Rosenbluth surprised us with, in which lightly fried cubes of cod were hammocked in a tartly flavorsome casing of cilantro, lime and pickled mango. A few bites into the meal, as seagulls squawked and outboards glided silently by, it was hard to believe that Rosenbluth’s menu had only been seafood-centric for days. Clearly, this was the kind of food that the setting, not to mention the weather, had long demanded.
“I’ve always wanted to do it. It’s been a constant argument between my wife and I over the years,” he laughed. “The place screams seafood.”
Anchor Down Dockside is at 2479 Adler Ct., Seaford, 516-785-2390, anchordowndockside.com. Opening hours are Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 10:30 p.m., Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Closed Monday.