DRIFT 82: a must-try
John Sarno, owner of the popular Patchogue Village hotspot the Village Idiot Pub, and Tim Kelly, Sarno’s business partner in the Village Idiot Irish Pub in Oakdale and owner of The Lark in East Northport, recently opened the newly renovated Drift 82 — formerly known as On the Waterfront — a summer must-try!
The name ‘Drift,’ short for driftwood, features seating and a bar overlooking the water. The décor has a beachy vibe with multicolored woods and Long Island-themed wall hangings.
The menu mostly revolves around seafood and seasonal items, with some high-end steaks and a few favorites such as whole lobsters and a raw bar. There is also a decent “nosh” menu, with some VIP staples such as spinach dip. The lunch menu consists of wraps and sandwiches and foods are sourced as locally as possible.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The bar remains open until the last ferry.
My boyfriend and I visited the restaurant on a Monday afternoon, in an effort to beat the crowds and, quite honestly, with the expectation of eating at no more than the average seafood joint. We should have known differently, knowing John, and boy, were we wrong. The menu was innovative and the food was delicious. Drift 82 served the best lobster I have ever had.
Joe Taggart, the manager, started us off with cocktails. Not just any cocktails, but his own creations. We were offered a Nutty Hawaiian, a Naked Ginger and a watermelon martini.
The pairing with the beachy ambiance overlooking the canal with the scent of summer, which included running boats and seawater, was heavenly. The drinks were deliciously refreshing, a nice cool-down to a busy Monday workday … or any day, for that matter.
The Nutty Hawaiian tasted just as it sounds, with a coconut, orange juice flavor and a hint of nutty rum aftertaste. The Naked Ginger had a refreshing cucumber flavor with a hint of lemon and ginger… it was very light. My favorite was his newest creation, the watermelon martini, which is a working title. Inside was fresh watermelon juice blended into a cocktail, something you see on Food Network but never get the chance to taste.
Head chef Luis Juárez whipped up a few appetizers. We dove headfirst into a plate of clams oreganata and jumbo baked shrimp. Both were perfectly cooked. The shrimp were far from chewy with zero fishy taste. Four jumbo shrimp lightly battered with breadcrumbs sat on top of a lemony, garlic-wine sauce. They were butterflied, a nice touch. The clams were also served on top of a wine sauce and the breadcrumbs provided the perfect bite over a small, whole Mt. Sinai clam.
Next out came a salad. To most, a salad is a necessary side dish to a heavy meal, but a boring part none the less. Not at Drift. The TNT salad was something worth coming back for. It featured lightly fried calamari and sliced seared tuna tossed with baby bok choy, scallions, pickled ginger and sesame seeds, all smothered in a Thai sauce. The Thai chili sauce was homemade and amazing. I was tempted to ask to take some home. The calamari was also perfectly cooked. It was the first calamari I had in a long time that wasn’t chewy. The bok choy was also a very nice substitute for regular lettuce. The entire salad was packed with flavor with just the right amount of spice and a crispy component in every bite.
Last was the main course. We were full, but eager for more. A lovely waitress named Stephanie Dellecave, a teacher from Medford, served us a whole, de-shelled lobster and some sea scallops.
And — oh, my god — the Drift lobster was the best lobster I ever ate. It was an out-of-the-shell whole lobster, which took all the work out of an otherwise daunting task. It was lightly dusted and sautéed and served over their famous Drift 82 sauce, a buttery-goodness sauce, accompanied by mashed potatoes. Honestly, I don’t think I even ate the potatoes, the lobster was that good.
The seared sea scallops were also cooked to perfection and served with a flavor-packed herb risotto with asparagus. There were six scallops, a nice serving. I would, and did, go back for seconds.
Check out our Long Island Advance Facebook page for more photos. And visit Drift 82 this summer.
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