Review by Joshua Maloni
My employer, who is well versed on The Beach House, East River Road's home-shaped diner, gave me the heads-up last week when I told him I was having dinner at the restaurant. He said prepare to wait, and enjoy the free drink.
Apparently, flocks of Islanders descend on The Beach House nightly, and in particular on Friday nights. The fish fry, which locals boast is well worth the trip, is the root of the logjam. Patrons wait 10, 15 and 20 minutes for a table. There is literally a line out the door (when was the last time you saw that?).
Now, if there's one thing readily apparent about The Beach House, it's the wait staff's desire, nay, mission to please each and every customer. So, in an attempt to make the wait a little more enjoyable, those in line are treated to a drink of choice.
As I waited to be seated for dinner, I noticed this stand-in-line-have-a-drink-order-the-fish rinse and repeat routine seemed like a fun game for the dozens at the restaurant.
Once at my table, my selection was sort of a no-brainer. The only question: What is the "Captain's Platter"? My waitress informed me it's a smaller version of the fish fry, but the haddock comes with fried shrimp and scallops ($11.50), a choice of potato and cole slaw. That sounded like a plan.
As the cook staff prepared my meal, I chowed down on a cup of New England clam chowder ($1.95). The soup was nicely garnished and offered sliced bits of clam and potato in a rich broth. At first, the appetizer appeared average at best. But, as I dug deeper into the cup (which could've doubled for a bowl), the soup grew more savory. As I downed my last few spoonfuls, it took an extra ounce of self-control to not lick the inside of the container.
When my fish platter arrived, it featured expertly cooked haddock, crispy fried shrimp and scallops, and enough mashed potatoes and gravy to feed the party standing in the entranceway. Even the cole slaw, which is something I universally reject (or hand off), netted a few bites.
With an ample menu of salads, sandwiches, subs, seafood and desserts - not to mention a million-dollar reputation with the locals - I'd like to stop back soon and see how the rest of The Beach House's choices stack up with the fish fry.
Incidentally, it was a coworker who first alerted Dispatch Editor Larry Austin and me of The Beach House. He told us we could order an out-of-this-world bacon cheeseburger, pay less than we would at McDonald's, and have it in about 10 minutes.
Now, if you think seeing a line out the door is rare, try finding a gourmet burger ($5.95 plus $1 for fries) that's ready in less time than you'd spend at a fast food drive-thru.
Sure enough, the meat was juicy, the bacon crisp, and the fries were hearty and nicely salted. It was a welcome lunch surprise, and one that's made The Beach House a popular midday stop with the newspaper staff.
Open seven days a week, the Beach House is located at 5584 E. River Road. To place a pickup order, call 773-7119.