Louie's Oyster Bar & Grille, Port Washington, Long Island
Right on the water in Port Washington, on Long Island's gold coast, there is a seafood restaurant called Louie's which has been there for over 100 years. As a kid growing up in Sands Point, we used to eat there, so last weekend we decided to go back there to see if it was a good as we remembered. Good news—it was!
In the over 40 years since I last dined there, they have expanded considerably and done it with a nice casual style. The seating out back along the waterfront remains simple and comfortable. Inside the restaurant, they have added nice touches like faded nautical maps as wallpaper, and industrial lighting fixtures, all with a well-done, bleached, faux patina. The place was slamming busy and there were no shortage of people willing to wait the 1 hour or more for a seat. Thankfully, we had a reservation.
There is a nice, slightly dark bar which opens up onto the water, so a before dinner drink is the way to go. We were seated on time and they use a sort of tag-team waiter system so service was fast. They had Sam Adams on tap which made my husband very happy. I passed on a beverage because I wanted to get right to the seafood. We started with an order of steamers which I thought were okay, not the best, mostly because they were random sizes (I prefer the medium-sized ones) and not consistently fresh. We also ordered some breaded calamari which was unbelievably delicious. Perfect light batter, melt-in-your-mouth tender, no rubber bands. They served it with lots of lemon wedges, a bit of marinara and some Mignonette sauce which was a perfect choice. My mother was thrilled with the abundance of room temp butter served with their very nice rustic bread.
For my main course I had the mixed seafood grill which came with scallops, shrimp, a large clam oreganata, grilled cod, a side of Beurre Blanc, and some saffron rice. It was all cooked perfectly, not cheap on the butter, and I ate most of it except for the rice—which was just rice. My mother had a pair of lobster tails and a bucket of french fries. There was also an excellent ramekin of creamed spinach which she basically ignored (my mother does not do vegetables—go figure). The fries arrived too salty and the waiter was most courteous in returning them to the kitchen and replacing them with unsalted, hot, fresh fries. My husband had the surf and turf with a lobster tail and a piece of filet mignon. The quality and cook of the tenderloin was excellent and he ate every speck of food. By the end of the main courses, we were all super full so there was not even any discussion of dessert, though a nice slice of key lime pie caught my eye. If you have a boat, topsiders, and some Ralph Lauren sweaters, you can dock right at the restaurant. If you find that pretentious, have another drink. I prefer the front door.