By Danielle Lipiec
57 Bayview Walk, Ocean Bay Park, NY
Lunch: Noon-5 p.m.; Dinner: 5-10 p.m
Open through Columbus Day Weekend
In a sea of dining establishments on Fire Island, Schooner Inn offers something different. I’ve heard rave reviews from locals, who most notably compliment the restaurant’s ambiance. With great location and service, two bars, and a varied menu with fresh and delicious ingredients, it also offers a beautiful bay view unobstructed by marina boats, and happy hour bike bingo. (We’ll talk about the bingo in a moment!)
We were seated almost immediately alongside a basket of bread and a couple of bingo cards. The service was pleasant and attentive the entire meal despite the restaurant’s deck full of diners. Our waitress was happily accommodating to everything we needed. Let’s also mention not all bread is created the same; theirs was amazing. I personally had to restrain myself from eating the entire basket to keep room for the rest of my meal!
Appetizers followed. My guest and I decided on the Mozzarella Sticks and Atlantic Wide Cut Calamari. While mozzarella sticks are a staple at any restaurant, Schooner’s makes them exceptionally well, with the classic contrast between the breaded outer crust and the gooey cheese inside executed perfectly, and their tangy marinara sauce was the perfect complement.
My guest, who ordered the calamari, was pleasantly surprised by how much he enjoyed it. As someone who is picky when it comes to seafood, he decided to give it a chance at Schooner’s, and faced no regret. The exterior was crisp, and the calamari itself filled with flavor. A hint of lemon perfected the appetizer.
As it came time to order an entree, I prepared myself to struggle finding a dish suited for a vegetarian like myself. To my delight, however, I found the sweet potato and black bean Veggie Burger, and a number of unique salads that could be ordered without meat. Even with these options present, I decided to test my luck and see how they could accommodate my dietary preference. Without hesitation, I was offered the Penne Ala Vodka, minus the shrimp and scallops. The dish was not lacking without the shrimp and scallops, as the quality of the al dente penne and creamy, flavorful vodka sauce did more than compensate.
On the other side of the table, my carnivore guest ordered the filet mignon wrapped with bacon. It came with sides of garlic mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. The dish came cooked just as ordered – medium rare – and was butter-knife tender. The bacon exterior was grease-free, and steamed veggies – broccoli, zucchini, and squash – which I tried myself, were nice and fresh. To finish off the night, we shared a single slice of chocolate cake. While I’m a huge fan of chocolate, I’m not always a fan of chocolate cakes served at most restaurants; sometimes they taste like they’ve just come out of the freezer. However Schooner’s beat my expectations again, serving up a warm, rich piece of chocolate cake, with the frosting clad in mini chocolate chips and paired perfectly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Above all was the ambiance of the restaurant. The deck was filled, however not uncomfortably so, with happy diners, bar-goers and bingo players alike.
Back to the Bike Bingo: I’ve been to Schooner’s for bingo before, and it seems like every time players are more and more excited to win the prized bike. Regular players even have created the tradition of the winner riding their new bike off the Ocean Bay Park dock and into the bay. The winner the night I attended didn’t feed into the roaring, “In the bay!” chants, but the excitement throughout the game was still high.
Friends and families joined to enjoy the restaurant’s relaxed, casual atmosphere, as well as the sunset, in which we had a front row seat. Schooner Inn did not disappoint, providing a fantastic dining experience and a uniqueness for all to appreciate.