Friday, August 26, 2016


Take stock in having a mouthwatering seafood experience at Nick’s Lobster House both a restaurant and market.   Having been in the family since 1955, they say “Our goal is to provide our guests with excellent service in a fun, casual atmosphere to enjoy the freshest lobsters, seafood and ingredients around.”  Their aim is to “continuously improve Nicks Lobster House for another 60 years.” Perhaps that is why they recently hired Donald Baftjari as the new General Manager with a strong history of restaurant command.  

I find that aside from that awful Red Lobster chain you cannot find many local restaurants that are devoted to seafood without being ethnic.  Personally, if I cannot view a tank of lobsters of this ilk I don’t count on the freshness.  Here you can expect hard shell lobsters vs the soft shell “summers” that are in the supermarkets.  Hard shells have more meat. 

Since it appeared that the waitstaff had a good knowledge of the menu with detailed preparation, I asked lots of questions, some of which they did have to request from Chef Miguel Luna.  In particular were the three soups.  Here is what I was told about the seafood stock.  It is housemade with garlic, onion, celery, carrot, clam juice and a whole lobster.  Manhattan Clam Chowder adds potato, celery, carrot, onion, fresh tomato and bell pepper.  New England Clam Chowder uses the stock with potato, clam juice, flour, milk, butter, garlic and onions.   Opt for the Lobster Bisque and you’ll get milk, heavy cream, tomato puree, sherry wine, wheat flour, shallots, butter, and of course, lobster.  I got a sample of all three, equally good with a different savory taste.  

Onto the raw bar for Blue Point oysters and little neck clams.  Rather than a shrimp cocktail I requested the steamed shrimp on this platter.  They get the shrimp delivered fresh, not frozen. 

Let’s get to the ambiance.  Very casual.  As with popular restaurants they may tend to have a line of customers waiting to be seated.  Upon entry, you will find four 4-top and two 2-top tables in their lounge area.  A bar is being tended for your refreshment enjoyment (wine and beer only) and you can choose to even sit at the bar and dine.   The market area is in this room and will give you a chance to check out some of the goods. “At our Fish Market customers can purchase Shrimp, homemade Crab Cake, Salmon, Sword Fish and Fillet of Sole,” Donald later told me. “Also available fresh daily are Little Neck Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Steamers and Lobster of different sizes from 1 1/4 lb up to 6 lb.”  

Two great “to go items”….lobster roll and lobster meat sandwich.  The Lobster roll is served cold with hot French fries.  The lobster meat sandwich has it topped with seafood stuffing and baked (also comes with fries). 

Nick’s has a few rooms to both whet and satisfy your appetite.  One side of the dining area faces the waterway.  That’s where the view comes in with a few occasional seagulls viewing you or perhaps Manager Kenneth Pearth as he walks from table to table.   He’s such a nice guy.  

Back to the food.  Since I’m in a lobster house, I certainly desire to have one simply steamed.  Not wanting to pass up on the crab, I requested both Alaskan King and Snow.  You can rarely get that fresh as they are delivered frozen and cooked.  Have you ever notices that only the legs are available with just a touch of body?  This is due to both the size and there not being meat in the body. 

Nick’s may be billed as a Lobster House but don’t think that you cannot get some fresh fish filets.  Take the Broiled Seafood Platter, for instance.  Good size chunk of salmon, sea scallops and stuffed filet of sole.  The seafood stuffing is prepared daily,” Donald told me, “and consists of bay scallops, shrimp, crab meat, japanese breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, butter, white wine.” It has become so popular that you can buy it “to go” or just get a side of it with your meal. 

I just had to sample a dessert, which I don’t believe is made on the premises.  Hey, it’s casual dining…they have enough to prepare as it is.  I chose the Tiramisu and was totally surprised to find it being better than some Italian restaurants that I have dined at.  Can’t believe I ate the whole thing.  Okay, I was not alone.  My friends Mildred and Ethel Louise shared the dinner with me.

“Nick’s Lobster House started as a fish market and gradually it grew into a restaurant,” Donald uttered.  “It is our job to hire, train, motivate and lead other people to give our customers an exceptional service, a fresh product from our local vendors and create a warm, friendly environment where everyone feels like being at home. Your customer doesn't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

The restaurant  is open every day with an all-day menu. Tuesday is a 2 for 1 Lobster Special.  Wednesday is “50% off of the raw bar”.  Reservations are accepted (and suggested).  718-253-7117. You can either call or make your reservation on their website of .     

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Broad Channel has always been a town that I have passed through going into the Rockaways.  A book signing was being held at an historic restaurant/former hotel.  In fact the author, Dan Guarino had a bit part in La Cage aux Folles at Rockaway Theatre.  This is the first time I stopped and entered any structure.  I could see much rebuilt from Sandy as well as lingering destruction in this closely knit island section considered as part of the “Mainland” of Queens.   Dan mentioned a restaurant, Bayview Grille and Marina as an eating house that I would enjoy located at 25 Brunt Road (718-945-2525). 
Prior to entering the building I first smelled the aroma of seashells that quickly turned into “grill”.  Everything was royal blue and white.  There was a long bar on the right with high tables and seats around.  Stairs lead up to the loft that has about 10 tables.  The rest of the inside of the restaurant does not have many tables as much of the property centers on the outside deck. 

The weather this evening couldn’t have been more perfect as rain clouds simply dumped the water and moved on.  There was a breeze and the trending heat advisory was gone.  I tend to like air conditioning, thus seated inside.

Allison Zeller, a waitress, has a Broad Channel ancestry that goes back to several generations when the town was composed of summer bungalows.   She has been working at Bayview for 6 years.   “When Sandy hit the deck fell off, we lost the atrium and the wooden floors buckled”.   One of the partners owned a few other establishments and they vowed to rebuild or renovate all of them.  Properties  included a deli and supermarket owned by Alex and Rob Pisani, where Allison worked during the Bayview rebuilt, which had its reopening in April of this year.  Allison also told me that preparations were under way for the deck in regards to the fall and winter season. 

“I’ll have a Blue Moon beer and a half dozen raw Blue Point Oysters”, said I.  Always a great choose from an established restaurant. 

Of the few restaurants in Broad Channel, Bayview Grill and Marina is the only eatery with waterfront dining.  Eight slips are available to those who want to moor their boats. 

“Are there any signature dishes from the Executive Chef?”  There is no Executive Chef.  It’s not fine dining.  Menu is “Americana” and the owners are the E.C.  Hmm…this looks interesting…Food Loaded Fries. These “side winder” thick fries are first beer battered.  Topped with bacon and cheddar cheese with a side of gravy.  This is Broad Channels answer to French Canadian Poutine.  I highly suggest this as a shared appetizer or a full lunch…breakfast idea…think of it as bacon, cheese and home fries.  

Needless to say, the outside deck is the biggest draw when it comes to atmosphere.  In fact, Dominick Delio and his wife Ann arranged to have a 30th surprise birthday party for their daughter Maria Murphy.  They live in Howard Beach.  She and her husband Michael danced as the first round of local  entertainment had “George” singing and playing guitar. 

Since I expect to be here for quite a while, I’ll nurse some other items and can always take home a “person bag”.   “How about the Bayview salad of house greens, fresh mozzarella , and roasted peppers.” Looking out the large windows I could see diners coming up from their boats.  There was a couple each taking photos.  You can view the trains going into the Rockaways, as well as the buildings. On the right is the toll bridge.  

If it weren’t for some lingering clouds the sunset would have been more than picturesque.  Instead, Jonathon Seagull invited his friends for several photo opps. 

“The chicken wings read well.  How about some with the Honey BBQ sauce”.  One thing that I found to be on the plus side is that the staff is familiar with not just the menu but the preparation.  As for the wings, they couldn’t have been more perfectly cooked.  Easy to eat, juicy and just enough crunch.  Again, not fine dining so don’t expect homemade sauces.  Choices are: BBQ; Buffalo; General Tso; Teriyaki; Bourbon; Carolina Tangy, Honey BBQ; and Garlic Stinger. 

“In case I decide on a burger or steak, are they frozen or fresh?” (I ask).  “Totally”, I’m told.  

It appeared that the earlier entertainment is geared to a more subtle sound.  It was followed by a rock band.  Need I say more.  Hey, it’s a Saturday night!  I was able to hear both seated inside and away from the door that opens onto the deck.  Live entertainment (vs corpses) on Thursday through Sunday. 

The menu does not feature a whole lobster.  They are delivered fresh and prepped for the lobster Mac and Cheese, Lobster Grilled Cheese sandwich and Lobster Roll.  “What the heck…I’ll have a lobster roll”.  It bills itself as being lobster salad.  To me it looks and tasted like a simple mayo was added.  Plate came with a slice of tomato and house made chips.  

I took it for granted that the customers were all Broad Channel locals.  Wrong.  Some paid the toll and were there not just for the food but to watch “The Fights”.  It’s a draw for those who want to enjoy the sports and not have to pay the extra price for ordering it on their tv.   There are enough televisions placed all over the indoors for everyone to see regardless of where they are sitting.  If you really want to view it from the deck, you can simply look through the windows.  It didn’t look like anyone outside was interested.  In fact, I saw a group have their meal indoors and then take a table at the deck.  Did I tell you that there is another bar located on the deck?

I bit of history before dessert.  The property is owned by Anthony Martelli and was a mere fish store called The Boat House.  His nephew, Nicky is now one of the owners of Seaview.  Nicky told me that the aim is to create a place of relaxation, casual dining and great service.   Unless you have a large guest party, there are no reservations.  Hint….this place is very popular and the wait time is worth it. 

As for Anthony, you will see him walking about from table to table conversing with the customers in order to see that their dining experience is a positive one.  When not doing that he might either be busing a table or down at the docks helping to moor a boat.  He, however, is not the General Manager.  David Ramos has that position and what appeared to be a very busy one at that.  You could tell that he loves his job.

At present, none of the desserts are made on the premises.  A frozen dessert menu rests on the table with photos of items such as lemon ices served in a lemon.  I chose a Tartufo.  I love the dark chocolate shell, let alone the combination of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, preserves and almonds.  Now ready to depart. 

While waiting outside for a car service to take me home, there were some patrons preparing to leave.  I heard one of the women say to me, “Wait on the curb.  The tide is coming in and there is a full moon”.  She must have been a “local”. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Kennedy’s Restaurant Makes a Breezy Point

Picture it.  You are seated at a large window looking out on Jamaica Bay.  Just outside people are dining at tables with umbrellas.  The sand is a few feet away, but nobody is walking on it.  There is one path that crosses in front of the tables.  Mothers with strollers, walkers of all ages.  The evening is warm with a breeze.  Another path goes down to the water.  One man comes walking up with his kayak.  Families are arriving and leaving as the sunset waits its approach.  Out in the near distance you can see the green of an area known as Jamaica Wildlife.  Further out in the distance are some of the Manhattan buildings as the blue sky shows its clarity.  


You have already been aware that you are in a private community in the Rockaways known as Breezy Point, prior to entering the parking lot of Kennedy’s Restaurant.  It is one of few historic places that have survived the hurricane and rebuilt by owners Christine Strehle and Gerard Casey.   
Calming hues of royal blue and white line the inside of the restaurant.   It is a busy Friday evening with local residents meeting up at the bar.  A small band plays mood music, soft in sound so not to interfere with the customers’ conversations.  Tables are placed in a way that gives you some amount of privacy. 

As one would expect, the bill of fare features much seafood.  I am dining with a friend prior to attending a show at Rockaway Theatre Company just minutes away.   There is plenty of time to relax and enjoy our meals.

We each order a glass of pinot grigio.  Maggie, our waitperson, recites the specials of the day with complete descriptions and price, not even having to look at her “cheat sheet”.  That is already a bit unusual as most places don’t reveal the price unless you actually ask.

I have my favorites when it comes to oysters.  However, one is located at an oyster farm on Cape Cod and the other in Apalachicola in Florida.  Blue Point is my choice and probably the best in the area due to its size and brininess.  I settle for 6. 

We choose two appetizers to share.  One is a tuna tartare over Hass avocado with ginger-lime-soy wasabi and homemade crisps (potato chips).  It is the next best thing to sushi.  I could not resist the second one, “Sea Scallops in Chilli-Accented Sriracha Beurre Blanc, accompanied by a Chorizo and Shrimp Risotto”.   Every time I watch Hell’s Kitchen a meal always seems to call for Sea Scallops with risotto and hearing Gorden Ramsay cursing out the chefs for it not being perfect.  Ramsay would have been proud of Kennedy’s chef.  I certainly loved it!

Having our taste buds dancing with the seafood, we switched to landlubbing.  A New York strip steak was cooked exactly as ordered.  I would have called it a bit “chewy” if it weren’t my own fault of having older teeth, if you get my drift.  It came with fresh string beans.  I requested risotto vs having potatoes.  This one seemed to be a wild mushroom with a bit of truffle oil.  Executive Chef Orville Campbelle adds aged parmesan cheese for an extra creaminess into the risotto.

One popular entrée is Chicken Puffed Pastry made with chicken breast and a slice of tomato.  Mushroom gravy surrounds it so not to lose the crispiness of the pastry.  Although I did enjoy it, it would not be a first choice, considering all of the specials.  

Unfortunately our tummies were getting full and I didn’t think it would be a great idea to doggy bag it to the theatre.  Oh well.  There is still a little spot in the belly that saves room for dessert.   With Crème Brulee being a running joke in my life (an anecdote that sounds as if Saturday Night Live scripted it), I ordered it.  I personally did not find it to be one of the best.  It wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked it to be and the top was burnt a bit more than enough to taste the flamed char.  

Bottom line. The food did not appear pretentious nor highly eye appealing, although the quality and flavor was certainly up there with my taste buds.  The location is: 406 Bayside (718) 945-0202. 

On a negative note:  This is not the fault of Kennedy’s.  I needed a taxi to Fort Tilden.  They called for me with Belle Rock.  I asked for a receipt and the driver did not have one other than Broker Service vouchers, nor even a business card.  I called a few days later to speak with a dispatcher named Ilya.  He said that I should have requested a receipt when I called and felt that the AAR broker service vouchers would have sufficed. Sure, let’s place the blame on the customer rather than the person who should be doing his job correctly.  I requested to have the dispatcher send a receipt in the mail rather than drop it off in my mail box.  He refused (“I don’t have time for this”) and told me to call back on Monday to speak with either Willy or Yakov.  I will do this as well as filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  Perhaps I should tell AAR that this company is giving out vouchers. 

I did speak with someone from Kennedy’s who said that they are considering my experience when someone requests a taxi service.