Greenpoint Fish and Lobster
114 Nassau Avenue, Greenpoint
Why shouldn’t Greenpoint—a very charming waterfront neighborhood—have a charming place to eat food from the water? That was the thought of Vinny Milburn and Adam Geringer-Dunn, who opened Greenpoint Fish and Lobster after recognizing the lack of decent seafood options in the area. The spot is part fish market, part raw bar, part restaurant. Milburn runs the front of house, where Greenpoint Fish and Lobster sells delicious-looking, fresh seafood —much of it local. In back is where Geringer-Dunn cooks, and you’ll find a narrow bar and a few small tables to enjoy all that fresh fish fancied up. It’s a cozy undertaking, but the carefully planned design reminds you that it’s a sophisticated one, as well. The folks at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster are trying to bring seafood to new levels here. The food is beyond promising, but it seems the restaurant still needs to get its sea legs.
The first visit to Greenpoint Fish and Lobster, on one busy weekend evening, proved unsuccessful. You should expect a wait during opening weekend of a much-hyped restaurant, but the narrow entryway got too crowded, and the wait time too unpredictable; so after an hour and a half (we were quoted 45 minutes to an hour) it was time to eat elsewhere. Visiting later, on a weekday evening, was a different story. Waiters wove comfortably through the restaurant, and handsome, scruffy cooks looked relaxed at the grill, which you can view from the bar. Anytime you looked like you needed anything, they spotted your glance and were at your service. This, I could deal with.
The menu is small—about five items, plus a special—and it’s accompanied by a drool-worthy selection of oysters. My dining companion and I ordered one of everything on the paper menu, using the pencils on hand to mark our order, and added a request to start with a dozen oysters. A starter dish of fried salmon skin (it tastes like bacon from the sea) disappeared in mere seconds. But what came after, instead of oysters, was all our food at once. Plates of beautiful, hot and steaming fish, threatening to go cold. At one point, a cook pointed out that our dish of king salmon crudo (saved for later, since it’s served uncooked) was actually cooking there on the bar.
So what to do with two people and five plates of seafood on the table? Eat, and enjoy. Indeed, the seafood was spectacular, fresh, and loaded with summer herbs, which the cooks pluck generously from plastic containers in the kitchen. The Baja fish tacos, which were recommended fried but also come grilled, were comprised of perfectly fried pollock, chipotle lime mayo, radishes, and cilantro. The massive mussels—some of the biggest and best I’ve eaten—looked downright lovely bathed in a creamy green curry coconut sauce. And the fried black sea bass, served whole, was down to the skeleton in no time.
To top it all off? You guessed it: the oysters. They were served elegantly on a long and narrow plate of ice, and they tasted as good as they looked. It wasn’t the ideal dessert, but with fish this good you’re willing to make some compromises.