May, 2012. Chris Erikson for New York Post.
There’s a time and a place for cassoulet and duck confit, for stews, short ribs and stroganoff.
Summer is not it. The dog days demand lighter fare, and in particular, they demand beach food. Lobster rolls, oysters on the half shell, steamed crabs, fried clams — and yes, we do want fries with that.
As it happens, of late there’s been a spike in places offering such fare. We include a few — along with some old standbys — in this roundup of places to chow down like a surfer.
Regular deliveries direct from Maine mean the lobsters at the Red Hook Lobster Pound were swimming in the Atlantic shortly before landing in the two huge tanks under the storefront’s window. You can taste it in the peerless lobster rolls ($16), which come Maine style (with mayonnaise) or Connecticut style (with butter) — the better for partisans of each style to hold forth about why theirs is the only real way, and all others versions are travesties.
There’s a steamed lobster dinner ($25), which matches a 1-pounder with corn, potato salad and slaw. And they get playful with the crustaceans as well; the Lobster BLT, for instance, and lobster mac ’n’ cheese (both $10). Shrimp rolls (using Maine shrimp, natch) and clam chowder round out the menu. There’s a bench out front, and a picnic-tabled seating area next door. 284 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn, 718-858-7650, redhooklobsterpound.com
It’s a far cry from a New England seafood shack, but while we’re talking Red Hook and lobster, it bears mention that the mammoth Fairway store at the end of Van Brunt Street offers what’s likely the city’s cheapest lobster roll in the cafe at the rear. They’re a mere $10 with cole slaw and chips, and the harborside tables out the back door are prime spots for eating one. 480 Van Brunt St., 718-694-6868, fairwaymarket.com
“Traditional New England comfort food” is what Lobster Joint in Greenpoint promises, and this pleasant spot toward the northern end of Manhattan Avenue delivers. Fish and chips, clam rolls, crab cake sandwiches and lobster rolls (again, served in both mayo and butter varieties) are done beautifully, lobster corn bisque and New England clam chowder shine, and there’s craft beer, cocktails and wine by the glass. Order at the counter, then sit at a wooden table amid the nautical décor and dig in. There’s a raw bar as well, and dollar oysters are offered weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m. 1073 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, 718-389-8990, lobsterjoint.com
Littleneck, which has been been packing people in since it opened on Third Avenue in Gowanus last year, likewise styles itself as a “classic New England-style beach side seafood shack.” It’s more of a Brooklyn-foodie version, though, unless the seafood shacks in your part of New England offer specials like scallop crudo with a grapefruit and jalapeño emulsion. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. And they offer both steamers and Ipswich belly clams, both hard to come by in these parts — though if you expect fries with a modest-sized $16 clam roll, you’ll be disappointed. 288 Third Ave., Brooklyn, 718-522-1921, littleneckbrooklyn.com
Deeper into Brooklyn are a pair of venerable lobster spots that sit along waterways:Jordan’s Lobster Dock in Sheepshead Bay, which opened in 1938 (long before the TGIFridays it now sits alongside), and Nick’s Lobster and Fish Market in nearby Mill Basin, which dates to 1955. Both have domestic beers on tap, lengthy menus stocked with items like baked clams and king crab legs, and waterside seating that brings on a am-I-really-in-New-York-City feeling. Jordan’s, 2771 Knapp St., Brooklyn, 800-404-CLAW, jordanslobster.com; Nick’s, 2777 Flatbush Ave., 718-253-7117; nickslobster.com
Of course, a person can only eat so much lobster, even in the summertime. One needs crabs as well. For that, there’s Clemente’s Maryland Crab House, where the specialty is hard-shell blue crabs served up all you can eat ($32.95), with Old Bay seasoning and wooden mallets, in Chesapeake Bay style (or, alternatively, in a garlic-butter variety). 3939 Emmons Ave., Brooklyn, 718-646-7373, clementescrabhouse.com
The borough will soon acquire another crab house — Brooklyn Crab Shack, which is being readied for opening on the Red Hook waterfront. The owners plan an extensive seafood menu and a raw bar in addition to the eponymous crawlers. They also promise a kid-friendly setting with a miniature golf course, and a shuttle that will run from the Carroll Street F train stop. 24 Reed St., Brooklyn, 718-643-2722, brooklyncrab.com
An unbeatable spot for beach food is the beach itself, and since they were taken over by a consortium of Brooklyn restauranteurs last summer, the concession stands on the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk have offered prime seaside eats, from arepas to grass-fed burgers to fried seafood. Rockaway Beach Boardwalk at 86th, 96th and 106th Streets StrStreets.