By Kirsten Corssen
Summer crowds on Fire Island come and go, shops and restaurants close their doors come fall, but CJ’s Restaurant and Bar has endured. Except for maybe Christmas and Thanksgiving, CJ’s means there is always a place on Fire Island to have a cheeseburger, and yes this is the home of the rocket fuel. Beyond this however, a closer look is long overdue.
But let’s begin with the Rocket Fuel… Not only is CJ’s the home of the rocket fuel, they truly do make the island’s best… and trust me I’m an expert! They are creamy, icy, and with that Bacardi 151 kick, it’s the perfect beverage to cool you down after a long day at the beach. While enjoying your cold drink there is no better venue to watch the Ocean Beach buzz in the evening than sitting at a CJ’s high top. Between people heading to the ferry, kids selling shells, and that person who dropped their ice cream, there is always something going on in town.
After sipping on your rocket fuel for a little while you’ll find the smiling faces of the CJ’s staff ready to take your order from their extensive menu. CJ’s may be popular for it’s bar drinks, but their offerings are a far cry from just typical “bar food.” Let’s talk beyond burgers.
For starters Rob Weber served us freshly prepared crab cakes and mussels. The crab cakes were tender on the inside, with a crispy outer-crust, making for a perfect bite, matched with a creamy horseradish dipping sauce. The mussels were seasoned to perfection, topped with herbs and a buttery broth. The broth was so good I could have used a straw, but being a lady, I opted to soak it up with a slice of their warm crusty bread instead.
CJ’s in the summer is also famous for their whole lobster special – a special that is offered daily. Just to change things up, I ordered a lobster roll. This is not a typical lobster roll served in a hot dog bun and smothered in mayo, but is lightly buttered on an artisan roll, and served with sweet potato fries; perfect for lunch or dinner.
We also tried the striped bass special. Locally caught, what made it so unique was the unbelievable fresh salsa it was served bedded on a delicious corn puree – it was a delectable sweet and salty combo! Lily, the bartender, says her favorite meal is the blackened salmon tacos, made with the same amazing salsa, she explained. Kudos to chef de cuisine Anthony Lockwood.
Bustling in the summer, quieter in the winter – CJ’s changes with the seasons. What remains constant is the personal approach, making everyone who walks through that door feel welcome and taken care of.
CJ’s, located right in the heart of Ocean Beach on Bay Walk, is open from 11-2 a.m. daily, with modified hours off-season. Telephone: 631-583-9890.
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