Changes are afoot at The Jolly Fisherman — but not too many changes. The 55-year-old Roslyn landmark has just wrapped up four months of renovation and a menu revision that chef-owner Steven Scheiner described as “an evolution, not a revolution.”
The entrance foyer, hallway and main dining room of the restaurant have been given a sleek, modern look with sea-toned upholstery and tile work, contemporary light fixtures and dark wood accents. Meanwhile, the bar and the two smaller dining rooms have retained their so-stodgy-it’s-charming decor.
That stodgy charm also informs the food. Where else (except at Stresa in Manhasset) is your table graced by a relish tray full of celery, carrots and radishes on ice? The bread basket includes the Jolly Fisherman’s homemade nut bread and corn-blueberry muffins. The menu is a trip down seafood-memory lane: Fish comes fried, broiled, a la Francaise or a la meunière, accompanied by your choice of potato, salad or the daily veg.
In March, Scheiner added a couple of new items — among them, pan-seared Chilean sea bass, Shanghai shrimp and vegetables, crispy shrimp dumplings with ginger dipping sauce — and took seafood au gratin and lobster Newberg off the menu. (The kitchen still gets, and fulfills, about a dozen requests for these every week.)
I don’t see myself ordering Asian-fusion at the Jolly Fisherman any time soon. That would mean forgoing the New England clam chowder and fried Ipswich clams, two excellent first courses. On a recent evening, I ordered the soft-shell crabs a la meunière. Three were promised; six little guys showed up, a very generous serving. My friend ordered the broiled sea scallops and got 10 of them — about as many as I’ve ever seen on one plate. They had been dusted with paprika and broiled in butter as scallops have been prepared since the Coolidge administration, but they were fresh and good.
My nostalgia for the shore dinners of my childhood did not extend to an appreciation of the steamed broccoli or stuffed potato that came with my crabs, nor the clunky stemware into which our wine was poured. But friendly, comfortable and dependable seafood restaurants on Long Island are all too rare. Here’s to the Jolly Fisherman’s next 55 years.
The Jolly Fisherman is at 25 Main St., Roslyn, 516-621-0055, jollyfishermanrestaurant.com.
The new dining room at the Jolly Fisherman