May 24, 2006
A Seafood Spot That Offers More
|Independent / D.W.
A classic Hamptons dining experience: Stuffed lobster, chilled wine and a view of the bay are all standard fare at Oakland's Restaurant and Marina in Hampton Bays. (click for larger version)|
Nothing says summer like al fresco dining in the Hamptons.
A recent visit to Oakland's Restaurant and Marina in Hampton Bays proved that good food is best served with a great view. Perched on the edge of a marina, the eatery offers fantastic vistas of private yachts and the sparkling Shinnecock Bay.
Oakland's menu is appropriately stocked with lots of choices from the sea.
Caught up in the maritime ambience, our group began the meal with an iced platter of delicious oysters on the half shell. Briny and plump, the tasty bivalves were expertly sided with Chef John Hill's spicy concoction of pickled garlic, jalapeño, and vidalia relish. A chilled bottle of Wolffer Reserve chardonnay, selected from the wine list, came to the table in minutes and was the perfect accompaniment to the oysters.
Next up was a sampling of appetizers. Standouts included Hill's fantastic crabcakes that come smothered in a sweet and sour corn/mango chutney and smoked pepper aioli. Also good was the Asian-influenced sushi-grade Yellowfin tuna. Hill employs lemongrass oil to sear the fish, which gives it a savory spark. A surprise favorite were the unusual eggplant dumplings sided with a dipping sauce of wasabi and soy syrup.
Salads are good: the best was a plate of fresh organic spinach that was topped with smoky Portabello mushrooms and creamy goat cheese. A house-made dressing of crunchy bacon vinaigrette topped the greens.
Oakland's stuffed lobster dish is a specialty not to be missed! Forget boring breadcrumbs: Hill and his kitchen staff packed the crustacean with a tasty (and luxurious) mixture of scallops and shrimp with Japanese Panko as a binder.
Pasta lovers will enjoy a seafood-spiked dish of shrimp, scallops, and calamari sautéed with fresh basil and tomatoes, all served over tender ribbons of fettuccine. Also enjoyed was the rigatoni and chicken offering that was finished with a creamy roasted red pepper, spinach, and sun dried tomato sauce.
A dish of sweet, flaky halibut also caught our attention. The fish was treated to a dusting of wild mushroom powder and then sauced with a parmesan/green onion mixture and truffle compound butter. We loved this halibut — it was both meaty and delicate. Other seafaring options included a red chili-coated tuna steak.
Those not into seafood are sure to find their own favorites. A 10-ounce filet mignon is available and comes topped with a steak-friendly combo of Gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onions.
It's worth noting that the service at Oakland's is stellar, an unusual bonus that is – unfortunately — becoming more and more infrequent at many East End eateries. A small toddler in our group was given special attention: crayons and a coloring book plus a "Shirley Temple" cocktail in a sippy cup as soon as we sat down. There is a separate child's menu and the staff made an extra effort to get that food out quickly.
Thursdays and Sundays are good days to visit Oakland's if you'd like to save some cash. The restaurant offers a three-course prix fixe dinner for $26 with a choice of appetizer such as clams casino or fried calamari. Main plate offerings on the price fixe menu include soft shell crabs (now in season), pan-seared filet of Escolar, and apple-marinated pork chops, to name a few. Dessert is also offered. A "lobster bash" takes place on Fridays and Mondays. Served up is a meal of a 1 1/4 lb. lobster, clams, corn, shrimp, steamed mussels, soup or salad and a cold draft beer!
Live reggae music is an added plus at Oakland's. The outdoor spacious bar is often a gathering place for the happy hour crowd.
Come for the view. Stay for the food!
Oakland's Restaurant & Marina
Dune Road at Shinnecock Inlet
Hampton Bays, NY 11946
728-6900 Reservations accepted.