Quality, freshness and sustainability — these are the bywords at The Fish Stop, the Centerport seafood market that Jeffrey Drain opened two months ago.
Quantity is not a priority.
“I only want enough on hand so I sell out every day,” he said. “If a fish hasn’t sold by day two, it goes into the smoker and I sell it that way.”
Drain deals with only two fish suppliers, an independent fisherman out of Montauk, and Montauk Seafood Co., a wholesaler based at the New Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point in the Bronx. On a recent weekday, you could find these species lounging on ice: yellowfin tuna from Montauk, striped bass from the Long Island Sound, North Atlantic arctic char and lobsters, Shinnecock sea scallops, Oyster Bay clams, North Fork oysters, local Spanish mackerel and blackfish (tautog), crabmeat and mussels from Maryland (plumper, he said, than those from Prince Edward Island), and shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll usually also find monkfish and flounder, and special guest stars include grouper, cobia and stone crab claws.
Drain estimates that 98 percent of his seafood is from the United States, the big exception being his bestselling fish: salmon ($18/pound). This he buys exclusively from HiddenFjord in the Faroe Islands (part of Denmark, but located in the North Sea midway between Iceland and Norway). “I like the way they live — in pens right in the ocean,” he said, “and the way they die — quickly and humanely.”
Fish prices vary with the market; on a recent day, salmon and char were $18 a pound, tuna and scallops were $29 a pound. Drain also carries a concise selection of canned seafood, condiments and seasonings.
The shop is small and chic, with weathered wood paneling and a photographic undersea-scape papered on one whole wall. Drain, who spent many exhausting years in the seafood-restaurant business (at Southside Fish and Clam in Lindenhurst, among others) wanted to create a pleasant workspace that he could manage with little or no help, and that he could leave at 6 p.m. to go home to wife Debra and new baby Oliver (who have been known to drop in during the afternoon to hang out with daddy).
In addition to the fish counter, there are a few tables where you can sample some of Drain’s prepared foods: the smoked fish, crabcakes, seafood salad, clam chowder and chicken salad and chicken soup (both made with birds from Raleigh’s Poultry Farm in Kings Park). If he’s got the time and the lobsters, he makes a mean lobster roll with Sir Kensington’s mayonnaise, avocado and a butter-griddled split-top bun.
The Fish Stop is at 94 Washington Dr., Centerport, 631-683-3474, thefishstops.com.