May 31, 2006

Main Course

Independent / D.W. A taste of summer: Buoy One's clambake is packed with steamers, boiled shrimp, mussels, corn and lobster. (click for larger version)
Fish Without The Fuss

You can leave all that Hamptons fussiness behind at Buoy One in Riverhead. This cute little seafood eatery in Riverhead—located at 1175 West Main Street—also doubles as a market where you can pick up a fresh piece of organic salmon to grill at home or perhaps some fried oysters to go.

Many choose to stay, though, and it's a good thing.

There's something about dining in a seafood market that's reassuring. After all, the food comes straight from the boats to the market and then to your plate! A recent visit to Buoy One revealed a simple straightforward menu that's brimming with choices from the sea. Such as: steamers, oysters, mussels, scallops and calamari. And that's just the shellfish selections. We tried the raw bar sampler, a super-fresh assortment of hard shell clams, oysters and chilled shrimp that was very good. An interesting salad also incorporated Buoy One's seafood theme. Mixed field greens were topped with a warm shellfish medley and dressed with a spicy garlic saffron vinaigrette. Another standout starter was a plate of coconut-crusted jumbo shrimp that we ordered. The shrimp was so deliciously crisp and flavorful that even a toddler in our group couldn't resist munching. Next we enjoyed a portion of teriyaki and soy-glazed halibut that was sided with a helping of farmstand asparagus. Perfectly cooked, both sweet and tender, the fish was a winner. The Buoy One clam bake deserves accolades, too. We feasted on a basket of steamed lobster, mussels, steamed shrimp and steamers. The clam bake came with a side of vegetable and baked potato. We couldn't finish the whole thing! Individual baked or stuffed lobsters are also available. A dish of wok-seared scallops is highly recommended. The plump scallops were artfully presented, tossed with plum tomatoes, snow peas and fragrant Taso ham.

The restaurant offers beer and wine, so we paired our meal with a bottle of very good California chardonnay. Some local vineyard selections, like white wines from Martha Clara, are available.

Pasta lovers will find good choices at Buoy One like the traditional clams and linguine (red or white sauce) sea scallops and pesto over linguine, and mussels marinara as well as others.

Buoy One offers seating indoors and also a cute patio outside (recommended) with umbrella-dressed tables and wrought iron chairs. Service is good, with a very attentive and friendly staff.

Given the unpretentiousness of the place, it's interesting to note that Chef Dave Girard, formerly of The Patio in Westhampton Beach, was the protege of the renowned French chef Bernard Loiseau in the 90s. In 2003 Loiseau made headlines around the world when he shot himself after his restaurant was downgraded in the Michelin guide.

That same year, Girard rented a building across from the Snowflake ice cream stand on West Main Street in Riverhead and named it One Fish, Too Fish. Now Buoy One, the restaurant is a mecca for those who want great fish with little fuss.

Buoy One, 1175 West Main Street

No reservations, 208-9737

Lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.

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