Since before I can remember London Lennies has been the ONLY place to go for an outstanding seafood meal in all of New York City. Its considered the "hidden gem of Queens," but Jeff the executive chef was on Iron Chef last week, so maybe not for long.
After one of the most gorgeous beach days I've had in a long time at Rockaway Beach (don't knock it; its a beautiful beach), Claire and I headed over to London Lennies, which is a 1 minute walk from my place, to extend our ocean experience. What better way to get in touch with the ocean than eating fresh raw oysters? The disgrace is I am 27 years old and this is the very first time I have ever tried oysters. Good thing I was with a trusted pal and experienced oyster connoisseur. Not only has Claire been sucking down oysters since she's a kid with her pops, she works at London Lennies and is a seafood and wine pairing expert.
Cocktails to start! But when the oysters showed up Claire insisted we have them with a Muscadet wine. This French wine was light, crisp and dry and has a certain "minerality" created by limestone. The oysters, oh the oysters! were called Well Fleet Osyters from Massachusetts. They were served with a sides of horseradish, minuette, which is red wine shallots and cracked pepper, cocktail sauce and a delicious cucumber salsa, perfectly prepared by Oyster Expert Rudy.
So there we were, doubling fisting cocktails and wine, with a tray of oysters in front of us. Claire showed me the proper way to eat an oyster. We were both a little worried I may not like them, but I jumped right in sucked one down and it was like a whole new world was opening up to me. The ocean. It tasted like the ocean. Not in a stinky fish way, but in that fresh clean delicious salty majestic way. I was hooked and began imagining myself sitting in the corner of London Lennie's everyday hoarding gigantic trays of oysters like an oyster feign.
Rudy also let me try a raw Little Neck Clam and a Kumamoto Oyster from Washington state. I have to say my oyster palate is not yet refined. Claire has a distaste for the Kumamoto, but I liked it and honestly couldn't really taste a difference. In due time, I guess.
Just as we finished slurping down the last oyster, the tuna tartare arrived. I hate to be crude and I strive for professionalism in my writing, but Claire and I decided that this dish was, "fucking awesome!" Fresh tuna minced with ginger and soy and served with red and yellow peppers, wasabi mayo and crispy wontons. I can taste it now and WILL be going back to London Lennies for my birthday just for this dish.
You can't eat at London Lennie's without trying their famous fresh cole slaw.
We also ordered some New Zealand Green Mussels that were prepared in a sauce of chorizo, leeks, plum tomatoes, white wine and garlic. The sauce was perfection and so delicious slurped up with London Lennies' delicious baked bread. The mussels themselves were a little mealy, not very appealing actually, but thats the risk you take with mussels. Claire explained that it depends on what the mussels were eating themselves. These mussels were fresh but were pigging out on something that had a bad texture. Stupid mussels.
But just as soon as we were complaining about the mussels our Whole Branzini stuffed with fresh herbs came out! What a feast for the eyes. My friend Yui, who is Japanese and whose father eats fish from head to toe, helped me over my fear of eating a whole fish served staring at me. Thanks Yui!
The Branzini was unbelievable, so light and flakey, and it really picked up the fresh oregano and rosemary flavors. I was just finished drinking my wine-mojito combo when Claire announced we must drink the Vouvray, another French white from the Louire Valley with the Branzini. And an entire bottle at that! I was food drunk and maybe drink drunk and in no position to say no. The wine went incredibly well with the fish. What a meal this turned out to be. Delicious fish, great wine and my favorite person in the world to share it with: my dear Clarina. And Yui's dad would be so proud of the way massacred that fish.
Dessert? No thanks. Backyard mojitos please. And the rest of the evening is a story not fit for this blog...