Saturday, November 21, 2009

Epicurean Adventures: Half-iversary with a River View

Living as nomads for a month, then as squatters for close to four, Boy and I hadn't really had the opportunity to really relish married life. For longer than we would have liked, we were regressed into an earlier time, a time when Mom and Dad made your meals and you were happy to not have to share your room. Although my parents were hospitable to a fault (in fact, so much so that all of us, including Baxter, gained even MORE poundage, supplemented by Grandma), after living on your own, it's not only humbling but frustrating to fly back to the nest and roost there.

So with all the frenzy of job-hunting, then house-hunting, working and working on the house closing, and now working on the ACTUAL house (hence the attached photo) into the wee hours, it was to my pleasant surprise to note that our six-month wedding anniversary was already upon us. Long Island Restaurant Week was the week prior to the one that just passed, and a good many restaurants participated in a 3-course prix fixe menu ... including the Riverview and The Snapper Inn.

Both the Riverview and The Snapper Inn were places Boy and I had our eyes on going, now that we've moved into the neighborhood they're located in. Both were beautiful waterfront dining establishments with excellent reputations and gorgeous views ... and both had extended their restaurant week menus into the foreseeable future. Huzzah!

Next was the difficult part - picking the restaurant. The pick between the two restaurants was a tough one, pitting Oysters Vanderbilt (Riverview) against Oysters Rockefeller (Snapper); short ribs with parsnip puree (Riverview) against a queen-cut of prime rib (Snapper); and a 1-lb. Maine lobster with drawn butter against seared Maine diver scallops. Worthy adversaries indeed. In the end, I was swayed by the argument made by the Riverview's oysters and scallops, and without reservations, reservations were made.

Initially, we'd planned a Tuesday night outing, on our actual 6-month-versary, but Boy fell inopportunely ill, to both of our great disappointments (although I suspect he was more disappointed than I, being that I felt pretty damn robust at the time ... my scratchy throat as of yesterday says I gloated too soon ...), so we decided to go last night. Snapper's prixe fix was only Wednesdays and Thursdays anyway, whereas Riverview offered a more competitive Sunday-Friday deal.

We drove there instead of walking per our original plan, since it was still kind of wet out (does it ever cease to rain on this island?) and we were dressed up, and were welcomed by a large dining space, bar that opens out onto the deck (my boss says their summer happy hours are definitely worth going to, between the drink specials, apps, and live music), and cozy dining nooks for intimate parties of ... well, parties, literally, of a dozen-ish people.

The service was excellent, and I was thrilled to discover that our fancy restaurant just up the block believed in amuse bouche. Instant win! A beautiful little bay scallop was served atop a buttery leek sauce, nestled in a perfect scallop shell atop a bed of sea salt. This sauce was in fact so fabulous that it caused Boy to change his order (after much debate) from the short ribs with parnsip puree to what I'd ordered, the seared scallops.

We each got a slice of bread following our hasty inhalation of what was an absolutely wonderful single bite, and the hot, crusty, hearty bread stick came with a cold pat of butter. I found myself going back for the butter several times despite the artisan quality of the bread, but mainly because it was warm enough that it kept melting the butter, and I happen to really like the texture of non-melted butter. Anyway, the bread wasn't particularly notable.

However, the next course, the Oysters Vanderbilt (which we both got) was definitely notable. Fortunately for us, we'd moved from one renowned oyster -- Louisiana's monstrously large Gulf oysters -- to another -- Long Island's Blue Point oysters, so this one was a no-brainer. The difference in flavor is there, with the Long Island oysters having a little bit of a more wild taste than the ones I've had in New Orleans, the hint of brine or something oceanic having a tiny more of a bite to it. The size difference was noticeable, New Orleans oysters at places like Drago's weighing in at what could easily be about two or three times the size. The flavor of the dish itself though was laudable, with spinach and gruyere baked together and topped with sizeable chunks of thick bacon to accent the squishy goodness of the oysters. All it needed were a few granules of the course salt they were anchored on and all systems were go. Boy and I could very easily have eaten a dozen each. They were juicy, fresh, and flavorful, and made us excited for our main courses, since we had both decided to traverse the seafood way that evening.

The presentation of the seared Maine diver scallops was nice and elegant in a simple way, with a good deal of lobster white truffle risotto dolloped in the middle and three very large scallops arranged around it as a frame. A lovely aroma of fresh scallop (very different than freezer-burned, stored scallop, I think) rose up in a sweet cloud of steam, and it was refreshing to see all the bits of lobster poking out of the risotto so generously.

The scallops were more seared on one side than the other for both of our dishes, but not enough to take away from the experience. They were prepared medium as to be firmer on the outside but shiny and soft, yet still easily sliced, in the center, where it was a lighter seashell color than the parts closer to the sear. The flavor was delicious, and with the citrus buerre blanc to give it that acid zest, the sauce and scallop just went together perfectly.

I really enjoyed the lobster white truffle risotto as well, since seriously -- what's not to love? I pity those who can't taste white truffle; it's a wonderful experience, with an earthiness that's difficult to describe in its distinction. The lobster meat was nice, and the risotto cooked perfectly, although I thought the heavier flavors of the risotto competed a little with the lightness of the scallops. However, this is a classic Riverview dish and I hear it's one of their signature favorites. I, on the other hand, would like to see a main course of the amuse that was sent out. That was unequivocably the best dish of the night.

The creme brulee I chose for my dessert course (from options of gelato, sorbet, or cobbler) had a thick crust of the carmelized sugar, and was topped with a single mint leaf and fresh blackberry. These were disposable to me. The custard was slightly tinged with cinnamon, which I found interesting but good. The apple cobbler Boy picked was good, with a sweet crusty streusel topping, nicely prepared apples (not too sweet), and a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream served on the side rather than atop, which I think is brilliant. I hate wrongful sogginess!

So the final consensus about the Riverview? With it's vacation spot, old-school, luxurious ambience, pretty views, great service, and delectable food, it's a jewel to have within walking distance of your house. For $25 for three courses and an amuse, a commendable selection of French-influenced dishes, and just-right portions, it's a value hard to beat. Will I be back again? Once we figure out how much was can spend on ourselves (we've been putting a lot of money into the new house), most certainly I'll be back. There's a Cedar Roasted Atlantic Salmon with
Citrus Salad, Dill Creme Fraiche, and Pomegranate Vinaigrette with my name on it!


  1. Sounds like a delicious meal! I <3 fresh scallops. I did have duck the other day. And melt in your mouth gnocchi, mmm.