62 South St., Oyster Bay
Ambiance: Successful Seafood Remake
JACK HALYARD’S HAD a deservedly successful 10-year run in Oyster Bay. In July, it was purchased by Damien and Yakshi Carlino and became Spinnakers, a seafood-centered restaurant with a new team in both the kitchen and the dining room. Judging from my recent visit, Spinnakers should be around a long while. That’s because the Carlinos (they are co-managers; he’s the maître d’ and she’s the hostess) are doing everything right.
Most importantly among their moves was the hiring of Michael Ross, an experienced, gifted executive chef who previously owned Fiddleheads and was the kitchen commander at two Tom Schaudel restaurants—Jewel and Jedediah Hawkins. The Carlinos are also carefully remodeling their new restaurant with some discrete nautical touches (anchors, ship art, lanterns, etc.). They also provide patrons with live music Tuesdays through Saturdays.
The nicely balanced menu offers great diversity in its sensible number of dishes, from grilled octopus to warm figs. Some of the most positive aspects are the accompaniments to main courses that often rival each plate’s central ingredient.
The crisp skinned grilled octopus is on an exquisite bed of chickpeas, olives, mint, harissa tahini, lemon, micro arugula and two types of tiny tomatoes ($14). Soothing warm figs are paired with arugula, frisée, port syrup and nubbins of blue cheese ($12). Two other starters listed under “small plates” are the six medium-sized grilled oysters with lemon sriracha butter at the bottom of each shell ($15) and the rich New England clam chowder ($10), thick with clams, potatoes and flavor.
Among the large plates sampled was one of the tenderest main courses encountered on the Island: duck breast with a Thai chili glaze ($29). It could almost be cut with a fork. But a blackened swordfish ($30) was so thin it was overwhelmed by salt and especially pepper. Yet the silk handkerchiefs ($23) more than made up for that. This delicate, rolled pasta swimming in a delicious sauce-like amalgam of plump shrimp, tomatoes, lemon, garlic, basil and goat cheese was true bliss.
For dessert, target the moist turret of banana chocolate bread pudding with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and crème.