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Sep 24, 2008 01:51 PM

Day Boat Cafe (Roslyn) an excellent meal

I am a huge fan of the "cuisine" served at Mary's Fish Camp and Pearl Oyster Bar so I could not have been happier when I parked my car to go to dinner and a movie at the clocktower and spotted day Boat Cafe. One look at the short menu and I was ready to blow off Bistro Citron, but it was a Saturday night and they had no room for over an hour. With the meter running on the babysitter and limited movie times I had to skip it, but I returned the following Sunday night with the family. The bottom line for me is that the food is terrific, service is solid and I am very excited to have the place nearby. It is visually a knockoff of Mary's/Pearl, but in a good way. Weather beaten white walls, white marble bar and a set of oars by the front door make for a kitchy but pleasant atmosphere. As for the food,

New England Clam Chowder, identical to the other joints, smokey, filled with bacon, soft potatoes and abundant tender clams. Perfect and a large serving.
Caesar salad seemed like it was an afterthought. Very light dressing,almost non existent, with a few tasteless croutons and despite it being a fish house, no anchovy.
The shrimp cocktail had good size shrimp and I'm not sure if it was four or six because my daughter ate most of them before I got around to counting. She loved them.
Crab Cakes, very good, but not the kind that seem to be full of jumbo lump meat nor were they the kind that barely held together. However, I would order them again. The cole slaw that accompanied them was unusual and delicious - not cabbage, but unsure what it was.
Main Course:
Lobster Roll, of course. Meat was mostly tail, may have had some claw and knuckle but was very tender and tasty. Lightly dressed with mayo on a grilled split top "Pepperidge Farm" style hot dog roll. The roll came with the haystack mountain of super thin fries, properly salted.
Seared Sea Scallops were also perfect. Four large scallops, cooked correctly with awesome mashed potatoes, not too buttery, and a few spears of asparagus.
Bow Tie Pasta with Shrimp. For my young son we altered it from red sauce to garlic and oil and had to leave out the green vegetable. That being the case, it was nonetheless polished off by my otherwise picky kid who lives on pasta.
Since the owners also run a nearby bakery, and one I have eaten at many times, I was expecting greatness. We got excellence - less than greatness - but that was fine. Mixed berry tart and strawberry rhubarb pie were tasty.
Beverages: I had a Blue Moon tap beer. The wine list is short but I'm a beer guy so I didn't even look at the list.
The food was terrific, service, was spot on at all times and Diane was on the floor checking all the tables and being a nice host. One oddity, no bread basket was offered or served to any diners. As I wrote above, they own a retail bakery a mile away so this was puzzling. I will be doing my best to be a Day Boat Cafe regular and envision many weekend evenings of dinner at Day Boat followed by a film at the nearby theatre.

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  1. Thanks Stuart for the great report! Have to get there! Do they take reservations?

    21 Replies
    1. re: pwrube

      Thanks for the kind words, I was wondering if anyone read what I wrote. Yes they take reservations, enjoy.

      1. re: pwrube

        I HAVE TO DISAGREE-I ate there last nite (Thurs)-We ordered the mixed salad and Clam Chowder-the salad, while having fresh greens-had a tasteless dressing-the vinaigrette was too vinegary-the chowder was too watery and not as creamy as Pearl's. Bacon? I didn't taste any-large serving yes-filled with clams-yes. But not creamy enough

        As for the Main course: Lobster roll was cold-Isn't pearl's served warm? with some butter sauce?

        My wife had the beer-battered shrimp-less shrimp more batter-the accompanied fries that were used to fill up the plate were greasy ,not salty ,and hard to manage -because they were too small.Come to think of it the shrimp were greasy too.

        I must admit that I didn't t have dessert-I know Diane's puts out great ones.

        The menu is limited-why can't they have more choices?The shrimp were small-the only whole fish was the the Bronzino-which you can get anywhere-why not take a risk at something new? Are they being safe with the limited menu? The term "Day Boat" means short catch or the time the boat is at sea.why can they be more local in their fish selection? I am very critical of seafood places because for 35 years I supplied seafood restaurants and had a seafood retail shop . Hence my pen name.

        1. re: Kingphish

          Nothing wrong with a differing opinion as I can't think of a single place mentioned on these boards that receives universal acclaim. In such spirit I have to disagree with you on some points.
          1. The consistency of the chowder was fine and the bacon issue may be one of inconsistency. My wife thought there was to much "bacon flavor". I did not write that however because my wife is not a chowhound and the concept of to much bacon does not even make sense.
          2.For what its worth,the Lobster Roll served at Pearls is cold with mayo. The Lobster Roll at Day Boat was excellent.
          3.Sounds like you don't like the super thin fries, fair enough.
          4.You may be right that the limited menu is due to the fact that they opened less then a month ago. It seems reasonable to assume that as they get their footing there will be specials and hopefully they will include local fish. There is nothing wrong however with just doing a few thing and doing them with excellence.
          5. As for the name, you can't be serious. Most restaurant names are not meant to be an accurate description of menu choices. Mary's is not really a fish camp, Peter Luger no longer owns his steakhouse and nothing made in a restaurant is really home made by a mother.
          6. The salad is bad, I agree.

          1. re: stuartlafonda


            OK-I always like different opinions -that what makes the world go round-

            Still I asked my daughter-who goes to Pearl's quite often-she says that at worst pearl's serves the lobster roll at room temperature-but definitely not cold

            As for the name-was just giving a fishmonger's definition of the term "Day Boat" for those chow's who did not know the term-as opposed to "Trip boat" which means a commercial fishing boat that stays out for around 2 weeks-you want to eat the catch of that boat coming back rather than going out for obvious reasons

            1. re: Kingphish

              Fair enough. As a real fishmonger can you give us some inside info? Where do you go for fish and seafood? Who impresses you for freshness and variety?

              1. re: stuartlafonda

                As far as seafood restaurants are concerned-the North Shore of Nassau is pretty anemic

                First let me say when it comes to fish and seafood I am a purest-by that I mean give me a good piece of fish that is just broiled ,grilled ,or baked.Fish restaurants like Coolfish are good but their sauces mask the real flavor of a fresh piece of fish-Is it really fresh?-you can't tell

                Let me discuss just a few-And I will just stick to Fish and seafood,not the overall experience-that's for another discussion. Also I will just list a few that call themselves "seafood houses"

                Riverbay-While at most times-they have a good selection-lately it's always the same and the fish is inconsistent in it's preparation-I know their supplier ,and he knows his stuff-when it goes to the chief.......

                Jolly Fisherman-great broiled lobster-as far as the rest of the fish-give it to your cat-I know who supplies them-they should be fed to the sharks

                London Lennie's (Rego Park)-
                same supplier as Riverbay-used to be great-but they fell off a cliff

                Best fish I ever had?-the old Lundy's in Bklyn for shellfish-and Sweet's in the financial district/Fulton fish market for probably the purest piece of fish I have ever had-but they are both gone now.
                If you want my take on another seafood house just ask-I've been to them all

                Which brings me to my original post ,I just hope Dayboat will get around to have more of a selection-and not just have the regular stuff like all the rest.Be a fish joint for goodness sakes

                1. re: Kingphish

                  When I want good fish on LI I go to an Italian resturant, not a fish resturant as I think the fish restaurants on LI are mediocre.

                  1. re: Kingphish

                    What is your opinion of Jordan's and Artie's in Island Park and Ethos in Great Neck?

                    1. re: stuartlafonda

                      I haven't been to any of them. Sorry. Do you like them for fish?

                      1. re: stuartlafonda

                        As far a Jordan's-Michael Jordan-yep that's his name-is a good wholesaler of Lobsters-His steamed Lobsters are good -how could you screw up a steamed lobster??-The few times he has had fish on the menu I think it's left over from his retail store-if ya can't sell it -cook it! nu-ff said-

                        Never been to Artie's or Ethos-If Ethos is true to the Greek way of fish prep-grilling- that's OK-I will try them and let you know-speaking of Greek fish places-did you ever try Eli's Corner in Astoria -they used to have a good selection of Grilled fish-but, I'm not sure if they are still there

                        1. re: Kingphish

                          When I cook fish, which we do often, I buy it from Syosset Seafood. I find them to be the best in the area. Have you had experience with them? I found that Woodbury Fishery's fish isn't always fresh, nor does it always look good.

                          When I've headed to Astoria I usually go to Piccolo Venezia and haven't treied Eli's, although I've always heard great reviews of their food.

                          1. re: synergy

                            Syosset Seafood is an excellent choice-Gus runs a great fish-store-also there is a Syosset in Williston Park which Gus used to own but has since sold-I believe he still supplies them-so the quality is still there-try their Halibut salad-you will thank me later. As far as Woodbury Fish I heard they stink-excuse the pun!

                            Also ,try Fairway- their fish is fresh and the price is right-Although I would like to have their salmon fillets a bit thicker

                            1. re: Kingphish

                              For quality and freshness, Marine Fisheries in Great Neck is the only game in Nassau County. The rest are also rans. Syosset Seafood is definitely worthy of the second tier, not the Albertson branch. Fairway is good for whole fish, their fillets are not up to snuff. Woodbury Fish doesn't sell yesterday's fish, they sell last weeks fish (they are a couple of notches above Pathmark and Waldbaums). For lobsters Jordans is still the place to go.

              2. re: Kingphish

                Kingphish Maybe you could shed some light on the Lobster question raised by the kitchen nightmare about Canadian vs Maine lobster.

                1. re: phantomdoc

                  I saw that episode-I was jumping out of my seat when chef Ramsey said that-
                  There is no physical difference between a Maine and Canadian lobster-How does the lobster know if it was caught on the Maine side of the Atlantic or the Canadian side?It's like saying a whitefish caught in Lake Michigan by a Canadian boat is different from a whitefish caught in the same waters by an American boat....pleeeeeeease!

                  That said-I prefer a Canadian lobster-
                  Even though it looks the same they are different -Let me explain-if the fishmonger allows you-squeeze the shell-the harder the shell the more meat inside-the colder the waters the harder the shell-Canada being father north has colder waters.
                  BUT-The Mass.and NH and LI (when they had them) were sweeter.But I still would sacrifice a little sweetness for more lobster

                  1. re: Kingphish

                    Kingphish, I write regularly on seafood-related matters in Newsday, most recently about what explains the dearth of local fish on LI menus, and I'd love to pick your brain--perhaps using a Morty-the-Knife-Man lobster pick. If that sounds interesting, email me at


                    1. re: emarcus

                      Ah-Morty -the -Knife -Man.He sold that place and the new owners moved it to Farmingdale. Morty was a real character-he had a real passion for his knives-used to bring his wife and set -up at the seafood show in Boston. When they were showing their knives -his wife would show a little too much cleavage-we kiddingly told him" Morty will we buy your knives if your wife showed a little less cleavage"- nice guy

                      Erica,I would love to read your article on the dearth of LI fish-send me a link

                      1. re: Kingphish

                        Re: local fish, I wrote about supply:

                        (there's a punctuation error in first paragraph, should be "Salmon - usually farmed, occasionally wild from the West Coast."


                        and on demand:

                        As for Morty, the guy who bought the place, Cliff, just moved to Florida and took the business with him.

                        But Kingphish, we can't keep meeting like this. Email me at

                    2. re: Kingphish

                      Kingphish you seem to have great info for chowhounds. I thought that the soft shell was because the lobster had recently molted and had not had enough to time build up a tough shell.
                      Do suppliers have different prices for Canadian vs Maine? Can Ramsey tell by just looking?

                      1. re: phantomdoc

                        Yes, that is true-but I was trying to give a response without getting into the minutia of molting,shedding etc.

                        Most suppliers in the NY area get their Lobster wherever they are cheaper-usually it's Canada-Maine has too many regulations which keep the price up -even though you would think it's the other way around with the difference in Canadian dollar vs. the US dollar and the additional shipping costs and tariffs,but not so.

                        As far as Ramsey is concerned you can't tell-but,sometimes when I sold the Canadians ,I thought they looked a little darker-bluer even- but I must be imagining it...

                        1. re: Kingphish

                          Do you also have any opinion on Ayan's Fish Kebob? Despite the name (a play on Ayan's Shish kebob across the street), the real stars are whole grilled fish of many species.

              3. Dayboat in my opinion offers dishes that are of varying quality but there are several standouts. We found the clam chowder to be excellent. Also excellent were the fried oysters, the caesar salad, the oysters on the half shell, the pan seared scallops, and the L. I. Boullaibaisse, For a side, the Green Beans were excellent as was the garlic bread. We found that several dishes fell well short of expectations. These included the mussels meuniere and the Blue Moon Shrimp basket. Their cold seafood salad is extraordinary whether had at lunch or dinner. The favorite desserts were the banana cream pie and the ice cream sandwich. The three berry tarte (pie) with vanilla ice cream was mushy and lacking taste on one occasion and delicious and tarte on another. The key lime pie was also excellent.

                1. We are going to Day Boat tomorrow night for the first time. Has anyone been recently and can give recommendations what they liked/didn't like?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: synergy

                    Enjoyed the entire meal...cold seafood salad, shrimp basket (great shoestring fries) , bouillabaisse and the ice cream sandwich (which was worth the price of admission alone).

                    Found the service friendly and accomodating, but a little rushed.

                  2. We went to Dayboat recently and I had mixed feelings. I loved the atmosphere, and they were very warm and welcoming even though we arrived not too long before the kitchen was going to close.

                    We had oysters to start - pretty good oysters through a few were badly shucked and had grit which is annoying. My husband had the crab cake as well; I'm fairly indifferent to crab cakes but I think he thought it was a decent rendition.

                    The bouillabaisse was ok, but not flawless. Lots of seafood - a nice smoky flavor which surprised me but I liked - good rouille - but some of the seafood was a bit overcooked. The shrimp was inedible, in fact, it was so overcooked. I believe my husband had the scallops which were pretty decent.

                    We had a glass of reisling (very sweet - I guess we should have expected a sweet reisling, not a dry one - but even so, mediocre for a sweet reisling) and a mediocre sauvignon blanc.

                    In other words, if I were in Roslyn looking for somewhere to eat, I might return - or I might go there if I really wanted to go out for seafood in that area. But, I'm not rushing to send people there. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't that exciting.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: The Turtle Bay Dove

                      I think Dayboat is trying to cater to the economy by offering fried seafood, chowders, and lobster bisque which can be offered relatively inexpensivelyl. But most people out here have the money and would rather a first rate piece of salmon, a wild Alaskan Salmon rather than the farmed salmon that they are offering. I do not know why they don't have a Montauk Wild Striped Bass on the menu as it is local. I'm hoping the menu expands and includes things like steamers (broth & butter), maybe a steamed lobster, or a "shore" dinner including both. But they have a problem. The space is extremely small and they just cannot properly accomodate the numbers that the Jollyfisherman can around the corner. So, they're trying to stick to a very particular and younger crowd that is looking for some simple seafood rather than a burger before the movie.

                    2. Well we finally got there. We found the service nice, friendly, comfortable. I had the ceaser salad which was just ok, nothing special, small. Husband had the chowder which he liked, but said it was overloaded with potatoes. I had to try to lobster roll and mountain of fries. I was unimpressed with the roll and quite frankly found the portion of lobster skimpy. Tasted ok, nothing more than that. My husband had the bouillabaisse and liked, (not love) it. We decided we'd go back, maybe, if we were in the neighborhood but not as a destination restaurant.