Foodies Take A Field Trip
By Pete & Rosie/
When a craving hits, sometimes a field trip
is in order.
That’s just what happened when the Foodies were in a
mood for some simple seafood in a waterfront setting.
Surprisingly, with its miles of beautiful waterfront, there
are few restaurants in the Town of Huntington that allow diners
to enjoy a waterfront dining experience. The handful of establishments
that do boast a waterfront location are on the higher side
of the price range.
A favorite road trip often finds us Foodies on the waterfront
in Bay Shore where for the past 30-plus years, the Chowder
Bar has been serving up simple and affordable seafood. Located
at the end of Maple Avenue, The Chowder Bar is at the top
of the docks from which the ferries that serve Fire Island
are located. Although the restaurant features no water views,
the flavor is clearly nautical. Its location makes it a favorite
among ferry passengers, while the atmosphere, price and chowder
make it a year ’round stop for locals.
Owners of the Chowder Bar since 1988, Lynda Nenninger and
Patricia Robinson made the decision to open year ’round
what was once a seasonal bar and restaurant. More recently,
they’ve converted an outdoor patio to make more tables
available throughout the year. The main room is centered around
a large bar where many patrons enjoy a beer while clams on
the half shell are sliced open before them. A handful of booths
complete the room, but in summer months, most visitors opt
for a seat on the light-filled patio.
The menu is what one would expect with a handful of pleasant
surprises. Clams on the Half Shell ($6.95/half dozen; $13.25/dozen),
or Oysters ($7.50, $14.75) are practically required. Locally
harvested, they don’t get much fresher.
Among a dozen more appetizer selections, Mussels ($8.95) in
a wine and garlic sauce or marinara are equally fresh and
a generous bowlful is plenty to share. The Sampler ($7.50),
featuring two each of the baked clams, clams oreganata and
seafood-stuffed mushrooms, is perfect for those who can’t
choose. Shrimp Cocktail ($5.50) and Grilled Cajun Shrimp ($5.95)
will satisfy shrimp devotees.
The affordable menu includes more than a dozen sandwiches
ranging from $3.95 to $9.95 and served with cole slaw and
fries. But save them for a winter visit when you’ll
enjoy one with a cup of chowder.
Although it’s not a summertime favorite, the clam chowder
is what puts Chowder Bar on the map. Manhattan style ($3.50)
or New England ($3.75) are thick with vegetable chunks, potato
and a generous amount of flavorful clams. On a cold day, it’s
worth a drive from anywhere for a bowl of chowder and a grilled
cheese sandwich. All of the soups – seafood bisque,
clam bisque, chili or seafood chowder – are available
for takeout by the serving, pint or quart.
For a small restaurant, Chowder Bar manages to fill a menu
with varied offerings, and daily specials offer even more
variety. A half-dozen pasta specials include this Foodie’s
favorite, Linguini with Clam Sauce ($13.95). Red or white
have large chunks of fresh chopped clams seasoned with garlic
over al dente pasta. Scallops Terese over linguine ($16.95)
are another favorite.
Seafood dominates the entrée selection and is generally
the best choice. Broiled Scallops ($16.95) are prepared simply
with lemon, butter and herbs by an able hand that knows not
to overcook the delicate bay scallops. A new favorite is the
Honey Pecan Crusted Tilapia ($16.95). A juicy cut of fish
dusted with finely chopped pecans and broiled, the honey-glazed
pecans answer the call of this seafood staple for a touch
Stuffed Shrimp ($12.95) might be improved with more seafood
in the stuffing; we’d go for the simply prepared Shrimp
Scampi ($16.95) instead.
Daily specials listed on a board in the dining room bring
market specials to the table.
On our recent visit, a Tilapia with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms,
herbs and garlic tempted, as did the Blackened Cajun Mako
and the Sautéed Scallops with roasted red peppers,
broccoli, basil and garlic.
Of course, the seafood platters are sometimes what hits the
spot. Chowder Bar’s plateful of fish, bay scallops and
shrimp ($19.95, broiled or fried) is a meal and a half.
Desserts often feature a fresh baked pie or two – on
our visit it was blueberry – and the lemon meringue
is a tangy bit of sweetness that nicely complements our usual
seafood selections. Kids will love the specialty of the house
– deep-fried ice cream.
Service at Chowder Bar is friendly. Tee-shirted wait staff
is cheery and while they may not anticipate your every need,
are happy to help when asked.
The best part about Chowder Bar? The dockside location practically
makes mandatory a post-meal stroll where you’ll take
in views of the busy marina, ferry traffic and clammers bringing
their harvests ashore.
Drop by… you’ll be hooked.
The Chowder Bar
123 Maple Avenue
Atmosphere: Casual seafood house
on a dockside location
Cuisine: Simple seafood, sandwiches and fry boats
and chowder worth traveling for
Price range: Inexpensive
Open all year except February
Friday & Saturday, 11-11