This weekend, we took a break from New York City to head out to the North Fork of Long Island, where my girlfriend grew up. On our culinary tour, first up was The Frisky Oyster in Greenport. The restaurant has been open since 2001, and has received generally glowing reviews (New York Times, Newsday).
Despite the name, seafood accounts for only about 40% of the menu, which changes daily. Indeed, when we asked our server for ordering advice, she said that several entrees and appetizers were new that day, and she hadn’t tried them yet.
The vaguely New American menu has some standard-issue favorites (steak frites; beet and goat cheese salad), but more than a few dishes that combine ingredients in unexpected ways: cannelloni with goat cheese cream; scallops with eggplant purée.
The space has comfortable tables and banquettes, and there’s a lively bar scene in the front of the restaurant. The flowery red wallpaper is a bit gaudy, but the restaurant feels warmer in person than the photo above would suggest. The dining room is on the loud side, with solid surfaces and uncarpeted floors that allow the sound to reverberate.
The vibe feels very much like the West Village, and we surmised that most of the clientele were from out of town. Prices are high by local standards, but visitors from Manhattan will feel at home, with appetizers $9–15 and entrees $25–35.
Oysters ‘Friskafella’ (left); Lobster and Corn Quesadilla (right)
Several reviews mentioned that The Frisky Oyster often has no oysters on the menu, but on Friday night they were present and accounted for. I started with the Oysters ‘Friskafella’ ($15), a play on the old classic, Oysters Rockefeller, made here with spinach, garlic and chipotle, and covered with a sheet of parmesan.
My girlfriend had the Lobster and Corn Quesedilla ($15).
Halibut with “clams oreganata” (left); Striped Bass (right)
I was especially impressed with the entrees, which can often be a letdown. Both fish we tried were impeccable. Halibut ($28) was topped with Clams Oreganata (crushed clams, bread crumbs, oregano, parsley, mint), on a bed of asparagus. The combination worked perfectly. My girlfriend had the Striped Bass ($28) with an artichoke, potato, shitake ragout.
The wine list is brief and eclectic. Naturally we wanted a Long Island wine, so I chose the Macari 2002 Meritage Bergen Road ($55). This is a Bordeaux-style blend, which I find is more dependable than the Long Island wines that rely upon a single grape. This one had matured nicely, and it wasn’t too overbearing to be enjoyed with fish.
We’ve heard reports of service issues at this restaurant, including long waits for food. That didn’t happen to us, but there were only two servers for the whole dining room (more than half full), and it could be a very different story during the high summer season.
Even if you do have to wait, it is well worth it for seafood so beautifully prepared.
The Frisky Oyster (27 Front Street near Main Street, Greenport, Long Island)