The Vern burger at Vern in West Babylon.

The Vern burger at Vern in West Babylon. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Bergen Bay isn’t one of Long Island’s best-known bodies of water, but this narrow inlet in West Babylon is worth exploring — a task that can easily be accomplished while dining on the deck at Vern. The eclectic eatery recently replaced the more casual Seagull Restaurant, which closed last year.

First-time restaurant owner Vernisha Persaud runs a construction company, and she tightened and brightened the building, enclosing more of the dining area and giving it a sharp black-and-white scheme. Outside you have your choice of shade or sun. Almost all of the 125 seats have a view of the quiet channel and its less-quiet resident gulls.

Vern’s kitchen is run by chef Lamar Todd, a Long Island native who spent almost 20 years with the Butera’s restaurant group, opening the locations in Smithtown and Bay Shore. For the last five years he’s been a caterer and private chef but, he said, “after a while you miss the restaurant business. There’s something about the chaos — every day, you never know what you’re going to get.”

Lamar Todd is the chef at Vern in West Babylon.

Lamar Todd is the chef at Vern in West Babylon. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Todd’s lunch menu focuses on crowd-pleasers — clams and oysters on the half shell, sauteed mussels and baked clams, lobster roll, lobster mac & cheese, grilled chicken-avocado club, Caesar and Santa Fe salads — but there are twists and turns too: tortilla chips with a mango-crab salsa, fried calamari is tossed in a Caribbean-inspired sauce, a Vern burger slathered with a secret green “Vern sauce” (I was able to discern cilantro and mayonnaise). Except for the lobster roll, everything is less than $25.

At dinner he spreads his wings a bit with pan-seared duck with chili-cream sauce, grilled lamb chops with rosemary, thyme and Vern sauce, Caribbean pasta in a spicy cream sauce with tricolor peppers. Dinner mains range from $24 to $38.

The restaurant has a separate bar and plans to have live music as the season gets underway.

Vern, 301 Bergen Ave., West Babylon, 631-620-3340, @vern.newyork. Open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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