18 Bay in Bayville -- Disappointing
The heading says it all. Ate at 18 Bay in Bayville last night and was very disappointed. The NYT and other reviews gave 18 Bay high marks, so maybe we just hit it on an off night, but.... Started with a clear clam/seafood chowder that was different, but not very good. The clams had no flavor and the broth had an odd, astringent and not too pleasant vegetable taste. Points for doing something different, but the dish didn't really come together, though to be fair it might be just a matter of personal taste. A cold beet salad with local greens was good. Main courses ranged from okay to terrible. A pasta primavera was solid, but not exceptional, and pasta with braised rabbit was okay, though there was very little rabbit (really just shards here and there) and a lot of plain pasta. Very bland. The biggest disappointment was what the menu called chicken under a brick. This is the basic flattened chicken, but this version was literally burned to a crisp. Maybe this is how they serve the dish here, since two orders came out that way -- not carmelized, but burned to the point of blackness, making the skin and some of the chicken underneath inedible. The chicken under the burned parts that was edible, was just okay and a bit dry.
Maybe they have problems with the broiler -- a creme brulee also came out burned to an almost inedible crisp on top. Biscotti were good, but kind of routine. Good selection of wines by the glass though -- some different styles and fairly reasonable price wise..
18 Bay is charging close to Manhattan prices (we had an outstanding meal at Lupa the night before and spent less per person for the same number of courses and wine) but based on our experience it is not turning out food to justify the expense.
I'm glad to hear I'm not crazy after all. I could not understand why this spot has been so highly touted and why on the earth the Times gave it an excellent.
We too had an okay meal. Not bad, but nothing special and certainly not worth the prices. Plus, the portions were fairly small for the $.
One of the reasons we had such high expectations for 18 Bay was that a couple of the reviews mentioned that the chef had worked for Batali. The beet salad and the pasta with braised rabbit certainly fall into the creative rustic school that Batali is known for. The salad was good, but the execution on the rabbit just seemed off -- not much of it and not a particularly pronounced flavor. I know that Batali is a big believer in going easy on the sauce when it comes to pasta, but there was so little of the braised rabbit or even broth with it that it almost seemed as if the kitchen was running out and just trying to stretch what was left. (Sometimes a problem in small places, and understandable, even if not desirable.) That left the pasta pretty bland, though there was absolutely plenty of it. Same with the chicken -- a very generous portion, though as mentioned, not well prepared. I hope and wish this was just a very off night for them and not the usual, because I really wanted this place to be good. (We have relatives a few blocks away and so are in Bayville fairly often.)
We went to 18 Bay for the 1st time a couple of weeks ago, and we loved it. We had the seafood trio appetizer (mussels steamed with fennel & some herbs, fried calamari, two big grilled shrimp) (LOVED it), and the bibb lettuce salad with parmesean crusted gnocci! (fabulous) I had the seafood stew, which had a mix of seafood and snapper-it was big, fresh, and I took half of it home. My husband had the steak & it was a winner. We'd go back in a heartbeat.
Went to 18 Bay Sat. and once again had a wonderful experience. Since we've been there many times and the regular menu is good but limited we both went with the specials. My app. of fresh tuna poached in olive oil with crispy tomato skins over bruschetta was innovative and delicious. My husband started with the Ransom Chowder which had whole baby clams in a spicey broth. My entree was a tender double cut pork chop with a not to sweet fruit glaze along side a smooth and creamy mix of parsnips and chard. Husband opted for the poached fluke over summer vegetables and quinoa. Portions are large so for dessert we went with the selection of homemade biscotti. Can't say enough good things about this tiny gem. Food, service, ambiance, for us this place has it all going on. Enough said.