“From Our Ships to Your Lips” is the motto of Fisherman’s Catch in Point Lookout. The restaurant not only owns the neighboring fish market and clam bar, but also its own seafood wholesale business. “Our fish are delivered by our very own fishing fleet,” declares the website.
In fact I was in the fish market a few weeks ago and was impressed by the wide range of local fish, among them monkfish, whiting, porgy and mahi-mahi. No such luck at a recent dinner in the restaurant. The only fish on the menu that could have been local were swordfish, tuna, scallops and flounder — hardly the offerings of a serious fish house. The daily special was soft-shell crabs, which I assume were local. But they were also deep fried — a method that’s good for inflating the size of smallish crabs while obscuring their flavor — and so I passed.
I’ve lamented the lack of local fish on Long Island restaurant menus before. A lot of the problem boils down to demand, price and convenience: Diners want to eat salmon, shrimp and tilapia. Because these fish are farmed, they are always available and usually cost less than local wild-caught fish.
But none of this prepared me for the substandard meal I had at Fisherman’s Catch which, with the exception of the steamers, struck me as exactly the sort of fish dinner I might have been served in 1972 — if I had grown up in Nebraska. Those steamers were fresh but, except for one bruiser, tiny. And many had smashed shells. The jumbo stuffed clams were big indeed but had no discernible clams in them, just an unpleasant vaguely mollusk paste. Perhaps the baked clams oreganata farther down on the menu would have been better.
My companion had the baked stuffed flounder, a flavorless length of fillet rolled around a bready filling, dusted with paprika and served with a large quantity of orange-colored rice and tough green beans. My St. Peter’s fish (tilapia) Francaise had the same antiquated garnish. Why did I even order it? I figured I’d get an obvious crowd-pleaser and see how the kitchen did. Not well as it turned out; the fish was entirely shrouded in gloppy “lemon” sauce.
I should note that Fisherman's Catch is one of Long Island's most beautifully situated restaurants, overlooking Reynolds Channel with its fishing boats motoring in after a day at sea. On a sultry summer evening, the place was mobbed with diners enjoying themselves and their dinners. Perhaps I shouldn’t blame the restaurant for giving its customers what they want. But I do.
Fisherman's Catch is at 111 Bayside Dr., Point Lookout, 516-670-9717.