Although a visit to Point Lookout in the winter may seem a little chilly, this ... More »
It was 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday night and the dining room of Fisherman's Catch in Point Lookout was already packed. "We can't seat you until the rest of your party arrives," said the hostess. Moments later, our friends from New Jersey called; they were stuck in traffic on the Cross-Bronx.
What I learned, over the next hour, was that this scenic no-reservations place is that rarity where a wait is often a bonus. While Fisherman's Catch doesn't serve food outdoors, it does have a beautiful rear deck where you can chill out with a drink and watch the boats in Reynolds Channel pass by. Fortified by a few pretzels from the bar, I relaxed at an umbrella table with a cold pinot grigio while my husband photographed an egret perched on a large fishing boat. That boat, I found out, was part of a small fleet belonging to the aptly named restaurant.
Later, four of us were seated in a large dining room that was mostly window, its vista compensating for the noise level. Although I didn't have high culinary hopes for such a scene, I was heartened by the arrival of a basket of flaky house-made biscuits. If only they'd been hot instead of room temperature.
A shrimp cocktail proved fresh but quite ordinary. While I thought the New England clam chowder on the gluey side, my Jersey pal, partial to thick white chowders, adored it. I was happier with a half dozen cool fresh littleneck clams than a plate of coriander-crusted tuna "sashimi," the fish seared beyond medium rare and -- weirdly -- sprinkled with Chinese noodles.
For a main course, I ordered crab cakes, listed as an appetizer. They were appealingly loose-textured and flavorful, plated with a compelling -- and somehow familiar -- carrot cumin slaw. As it turned out, I had enjoyed that same slaw years earlier at the former Josie's in Long Beach, whose chef-owner, Andrew Piselli, now commands the kitchen here. Piselli further demonstrated his skill in a special of striped local bass with a spicy Sichuan-style glaze. Walnut crusted St. Peter's fish with fingerling potatoes and asparagus was beautifully executed, as was delicate basil crusted flounder with a corn, potato and zucchini hash.
"You've got to order the napoleon," commanded our motherly waitress, who surely did know best. What arrived was a huge snowdrift of custard, phyllo and freshly whipped cream. It was at once ethereal and opulent, sending us out on a cloud.