Rockin’ Fish

Rockin’ Fish
Northport, (631) 651-5200

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Crossroads led Rob Haddow to Rockin’ Fish. The Crossroads Cafe in East Northport isn’t a fancy destination restaurant but a deservedly successful neighborhood spot that’s been around for eighteen years. When Mr. Haddow, its chef/owner during that period, had nothing left to prove there he decided to spread his wings elsewhere. That restlessness resulted in Rockin’ Fish, a double storefront on Main Street in Northport that opened in July.

It’s a cozy, congenial, woodsy, rather small place with a big bar and outdoor dining in the warm weather months. Unfortunately its bare tables and floors, lack of ceiling soundproofing and not a hint of absorbent fabric anywhere make it one of the loudest, noisiest restaurants in Christendom. That’s especially true on busy weekends when the alcohol-fueled bar crowd adds to the din.

Northport was jumping when we visited two months after the opening. Every seat inside and outside was occupied. The hardworking waitstaff struggled to satisfy all the spread out diners, but the kitchen fell behind and, as a consequence, service dragged. Perhaps on a slow, cool-weather weekday, with no outside crowd to worry about, diners would have a more satisfying experience. Yet the practice of having somewhat clueless runners who didn’t take the original order resulted in everything being auctioned off: “Who ordered the scallops?”

Dinner began with slightly stale rolls accompanied by olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and sea salt. We ordered four rather pricey ($14 each) appetizers: A good, finely-chopped crabmeat cocktail, a standard four-piece shrimp cocktail, an interesting cold octopus salad studded with cubes of beets and chick peas, and a creative oyster samba of four raw oysters on the half shell, each topped with a bit of ahi tuna and given some welcome snap by a touch of wasabi.

Entrées went two for four. The excellent fish and chips ($19) featured two crusty, crunchy, deep-fried grouper fillets with a smidgen of tartar sauce and satisfactory French fries. Its equal were the five jumbo, pepper-seared diver scallops ($25), perfectly cooked with a flavorful ginger garlic glaze that surrounded a mound of mashed potatoes. Speaking of mashed potatoes, the mushy tasteless filling in the two, fat seafood cannelloni ($21), absent any discernable seafood, had a consistency similar to the spuds and a so-called “ultimate meatball hero” ($14) that consisted of burned bread and bland, under-seasoned meatballs was anything but.

Desserts ($8) took a turn for the better with housemade, deeply-flavored molten chocolate cake, hot-ish apple pie full of ripe fruit with a soft, succulent crust and best of all, a chocolate coupe (or pile) featuring a rich, decadent mousse covered with fresh fruits and whipped cream.

Photos by Stephen Lang

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richard jay scholem

Richard Jay Scholem practically invented the Long Island restaurant culture through 800+ reviews of the region's eateries both on radio and in print over the last 30 years. He is a former New York Times Long Island Section restaurant reviewer, has contributed to the Great Restaurants of...magazines and Bon Vivant, authored a book, aired reviews on WGSM and WCTO radio stations, served on the board of countless community and food and beverage organizations, and received many accolades for his journalism in both print and broadcast media. He is currently available for restaurant consultation. Reach him at (631) 271-3227.