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Monday, June 30, 2008

HARPOON BAY--SEAFOOD FOR FOODIES

My town, Warwick, New York, offers many lovely restaurants, but we haven’t had a good seafood restaurant since the terrific Deep Sea Warwick closed a few years ago. But Harpoon Bay, once several miles out Rt. 94 on the way to Vernon, New Jersey, has relocated right in the middle of the village, transforming the vacated Warwick Hardware store into a place where seafood is king.

Harpoon Bay is owned by Four Star Chef Denis Viera. Relocating in the village was a good business move; the old location was too far away. One only has to look at Chef Viera’s extensive and creative menu to see that an exciting and different meal awaits you at Harpoon Bay. Use the link to visit Viera’s website and take a look at the wonderful choices Viera offers his diners.

We were three the evening after our book discussion at the library, so we were ready to dine and talk and unwind.

Our young waiter immediately brought a basket of tasty warm bread—very welcome and quickly sampled. Anne and I began with cups of New England clam chowder chock full of clams and potatoes. It was an excellent way to begin our dinner. Rob opted for the spicy Portuguese fish chowder which he rated as excellent. It reminded him vaguely of Manhattan Clam Chowder, but it was enhanced by many more ingredients.

Our salads were fresh and crisp with a nice variety of greens and a good choice of dressings.

For our entr√©es, Anne and I chose from broiled fish served in Chef Viera’s light and mild crust. Anne selected tilapia while I had salmon. Both were beautifully done. Mine was accompanied by a baked potato and a nice vegetable medley of squashes, and Anne chose French Fries and the vegetable medley. We also had a choice of Spanish Rice and beans.

Rob chose from the daily special menu, a broiled tuna steak served with the squash medley and mushrooms, and he gave it two thumbs up.

We finished with coffee—no room for dessert.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? There are a few drawbacks, however, and they should be noted.

Our waiter was either inexperienced or just bad. Anne ordered iced tea which never came, and our waters arrived halfway through our soup. Service was not good, but I can easily give that negative the benefit of a doubt since this was our first visit.

Prices are high. Anne’s and my selections were each $18.95. In a restaurant with comfortable seating and a higher level of ambiance, the prices would be termed reasonable. But Harpoon Bay’s seating is cramped and on wooden chairs that were uncomfortable. At some later date, perhaps Harpoon Bay will move again—this time to a true restaurant setting with all that implies. Until then, prices should move down a notch.

These criticisms take nothing away from Chef Denis Viera’s masterful skills. Now that we know what to expect, Rob and I will probably visit again—especially with local friends. But we probably won’t invite out-of-town friends to Harpoon Bay. That’s a shame, but a good restaurant is generally more than the food it offers.

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