Walking into the Vanderbilt’s gorgeous lobby—outfitted with a hand-blown glass chandelier, glass and bronze entry table and custom-patterned marble floor under a 22-foot high rotunda—is enough to prompt guests to speak in hushed whispers, a volume usually suited for museums or libraries.
But the party begins in Kingfish, the luxury apartment complex’s signature fine-dining restaurant, which opened to the public in July. Don’t be mistaken—the upscale eatery isn’t rowdy—rather, it’s a place where executive chef and kitchen veteran Tom Schaudel wants guests to settle in.
“We want it to feel like that comfortable pair of sneakers or jeans that just fit right for some reason. We want people to feel that way about the restaurant,” said Schaudel, a Carle Place native. “You want to come down and have a big meal and big bottle of wine? Go ahead. You want to have a soda and oysters? Go ahead and do that too.”
The expansive 150-seat restaurant and seasonal patio leaves plenty of space for diners to get comfortable as they enjoy a plate or two or even three of what Schaudel calls “Atlantic Rim” cuisine. The airy and contemporary restaurant has all the makings and offerings of an oyster bar, while avoiding pretension and unapproachable cuisine.
What diners can expect is seafood—fresh, delicious, seafood. Underwater offerings are Schaudel’s specialty; the Long Island dining icon has owned or been the driving force behind some of the area’s most successful restaurants, and is currently the chef/owner of A Lure Chowder House and Osteria in Southold as well as Be Ju Shashimi Bar in Melville.
At Kingfish, that passion for seafood is obvious, with a variety of fish and oyster options on the menu. Oysters (locally grown specially for Schaudel) are served freshly shucked, fried in a salad or grilled on the shell, while lobster makes glorious appearances on both the knuckle sandwich and grilled roll.
Daily fish specials—served both grilled or under the creative inclinations of the chef—vary by season but diners can always rely on finding satisfaction in the grilled yellowfin tuna (served alongside warm fingerling potato salad, green beans, cherry tomatoes and quail egg) or the Pan Roasted Swordfish (plated with parmesan risotto mushroom and spinach) from Orient Point. Those looking to blend the best of two worlds should try the black linguini, a delightful marriage of pasta with octopus and calamari, or the bucatini, served with shrimp and crab under a lobster cream sauce.
And landlubbers need not fear: Kingfish offers a flavorful grilled sirloin that puts most steakhouses to shame, as well as a variety of salads and sandwiches. On the small plates/appetizers menu, the savory grilled Colorado ribs, mussels steamed with Thai red curry, and grilled octopus all find themselves as worthy contenders for a first course.
Meals end on a sweet note with the cinnamon apple crisp, served in a skillet with a healthy scoop of vanilla gelato, or the Rocky Road bar, a delightful conglomeration of chocolate cake, marshmallow, wet walnuts and triple chocolate gelato.
Rounding out the experience is an ample wine and beer list, as well as creative cocktails such as the Vanderbilt (Maker’s Mark, orange marmalade, solerno, tangerine juice and egg whites) and the Spice and Brine (Ketel One, pepperoncini juice and a smoked blue cheese stuffed banana pepper).
With an exceptional menu, excellent service and a warm ambiance, diners will have no problem feeling at home at Kingfish. Just be sure to keep it down on the way out.
Kingfish is located at 990 Corporate Dr., Westbury. To find out more, call 516-640-5777 or visit www.kingfishoysterbar.com.