Kevin Kessler’s Backstreet Burger food truck is known for leaving Stony Brook University students and faculty satisfied, but the menu wasn’t doing the same for him. His fine-dining background, which includes five years as executive chef at East Wind, and innovative roots sparked the concept for Blue Point Oyster Bar & Bistro.
“The simplified cuisine options [at Backstreet Burger] weren’t fulfilling the dreams my wife and I had,” said Kessler, who opened the eatery with wife Gina Windisch Kessler in July. “I have a creative side to me; my grandfather was an artist and my outlet was plate presentation, which I didn’t really have the ability to do with the food truck.”
The entrées at Blue Point Oyster Bar & Bistro are decorously plated with vibrant local vegetables, infused oils and natural juices. The vigorous color combinations also stem from garnishes like the fried lotus root and pepper relishes.
Backstreet Burger still makes its weekday rounds at Stony Brook University and heads over to Blue Point Brewery on Friday nights. During the couple’s evenings in the South Shore town, they realized something was missing: a true oyster bar.
“A historical aspect to Blue Point is the oysters. A lot of folks that come to the restaurant were old baymen—they used to go out and harvest their own oysters back in the day.”
Photographs of Avery’s 5 Mile Look Summer Hotel and Stillman’s Hotel that line the walls depict Blue Point in the 1920’s and revitalize an old-world charm.
“We wanted to create a comfortable place for folks 35 and older. Places like Patchogue and Sayville have been catering to younger folks with loud and bright pubs. Here it’s casual; people can hang out, have a drink and enjoy some quality food.”
The casual vibe is not to be confused with the upscale cuisine. For starters, Kessler recommended the baked clams made with fresh mollusks from the Great South Bay, Spanish sausage, poblano and Vermont cheddar stuffing. An order of the sautéed Maryland crab cake that supplies a generous crabmeat filling also makes for a well-rounded choice.
As for the briny shellfish, people have been coming in droves to taste them, especially from the raw bar.
“Our East Coast oysters have a medium salinity, crisp body and earthy mineral finish, while the West Coast oysters are lighter in salinity, have a creamier body and a buttery finish. It’s all based on the temperature of the water they’re in.”
For the ultimate pairing, Kessler suggested the Pinot Blanc, Schlumberger from the prestigious wine list (averaging around $27 a bottle). It’s light with refreshing notes of spring green pear and candied lemon to balance out the saltiness from the oysters.
When it comes to reds, the Cabernet, Columbia Crest, Horse Haven Hills has found a stable companion in the pan-seared filet mignon that is topped with smoked bleu cheese and au gratin potatoes.
“The plum, sage and floral flavorings really complement the bleu cheese because they cut through the smokiness and bring a sweet finish.”
And just as the leaves begin changing, the Kessler’s plan to add some heartier options to the menu like braised short ribs and risottos, along with live music on Friday nights from 7pm to 10pm.
“People have already told us they sit down and feel at home. These changes will enhance that comforting experience, just in time for the chilly weather.”