The Schooner has been moored for decades at the south end of Freeport's "Nautical Mile," a strip of up-and-down seafood houses that, for diners, can be as challenging as navigating Cape Horn. It's always an adventure.
What keeps The Schooner going, while trends and competitors rise and fall like so many waves, is some consistency. Generally, you know what you're going to get.
These days, that may include music blasting from the adjoining Cabana 435, where alfresco imbibing and dancing accompany the sound of anything but silence. If you're at a table on The Schooner's waterside patio, you'll receive the full effect. When the performers take a break, the restaurant's sound system ensures high-decibel continuity.
Even with the extra noise, the outdoor tables at The Schooner are among the better ones that extend along Woodcleft Avenue. Inside, the eatery could use freshening up. But the staff is friendly and patient enough, serving mostly traditional stuff at a place that never will be wounded on the cutting edge.
Keep it simple. Just as you might have in the Carter and Reagan years, you can enjoy a shrimp or lobster cocktail, oysters or clams on the half-shell. The baked clams are mildly seasoned and good. The sizable Maryland crab cakes could use a bit more crab, but they're satisfying, too. The galley sends out a lot of lobsters. A $26.95 special includes a 11/2 pounder, plus baked clams or clam chowder and salad. Larger lobsters also are recommended; have yours steamed. The pecan-crusted halibut on garlic mashed potatoes, finished with a bacon-basil vinaigrette, approaches contemporary here and is fine, too. Scrod oreganata and pan-seared salmon are moist, risk-averse alternatives. The carnivorous may find a juicy sirloin under a mantle of melted Gorgonzola cheese. "Mud pie" for dessert.
Skip the bland fried platter, overdone seafood au gratin, too-sweet General Tso's calamari, dull coconut shrimp spring rolls, chowders, anything stuffed.
THE BOTTOM LINE