Summer is just heating up and, already, the outdoor patio at Bostwick's Chowder House is netting its share of celebs, such as Kim Cattrall, Alec Baldwin, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts. The transplanted reinvention of a Three Mile Harbor favorite is a laid-back spot where being seen isn't as important as being comfortable. And if the dinnerware is paper and plastic, nobody seems to mind.
UNDER THE HAMPTONS SUN
A chowder house needs good chowder, right? Here, the New England clam chowder is creamy-rich, studded with lots of clam pieces. The herbal tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder is its equal.
Sweet raw littleneck clams on the half-shell need nothing more than a squirt of lemon. Classic baked stuffed clams are hearty yet light.
I'm skeptical ordering a fish taco at a non-Mexican restaurant, but do it anyway. While I'd prefer soft corn tacos over a huge, single flour tortilla, I'm sold on the topping of grilled mahi mahi, citrus slaw, avocado, corn salsa and chipotle lime sauce. This is a knife-and-fork taco, not one you'd eat out of hand.
You'll surely need a fork getting started on the exemplary lobster roll, chunks of lobster meat moistened with a little lemon juice and mixed with a judicious amount of mayo (plus parsley and black pepper) before being piled high on a toasted frankfurter roll.
One night, the special is potato-crusted halibut with grilled asparagus. It's a lovely dish that speaks to the season.
Dinner concludes with Key lime pie on a graham cracker crust - it's homey, creamy, sweet and tart.
A LITTLE RAIN MUST FALL
Although the meal begins on the patio, the sky darkens, forcing a dash to the dining room, which has a crisp white-and-navy fish house look. I forgive the weather but not the fries, which aren't hand cut from fresh potatoes but, instead, go directly from deep freeze to deep fryer.
The prices of specials are a bit higher than those on the menu (a lobster roll costs $21), but portions are generous. Order wisely, and you can eat like a Hollywood star.