A few years ago I ducked into a slice joint in Babylon for a quick one and to my surprise the counterman was baking flounder in the pizza oven. His pal on the stool next to me, had caught a passel and before I knew it I had a plateful, swimming in butter, compliments of the house and our surrounding waters. Fishermen, both professional and amateurs with boats backed into their driveways are everywhere on Long Island. We are amidst waters filled with food. Why does a seafood dinner always have to be a big production? Places like Blue Chill Fish House & Grill in Babylon, open since December, make eating seafood easy. Chef and part owner Michael Gadaleta’s menu is filled with fresh fish, prepared every which way, at everyday prices, part of a growing trend that says fish doesn’t have to be a drawn out affair. Blue Chill, in a brightly painted storefront with oldies blaring and the ballgame on TV, shows that a fish house can be as casual and easy as a hamburger joint. If it were in my town I’d be there twice a week.
A bowl of the trademark salty-sweet kettle corn has me munching unconsciously while reading the menu. Do not miss the trio of Seafood Sliders ($10.) either as a starter or as the perfect lunch. There’s a lump crab cake with orange aioli; an Ahi tuna burger with wasabi cream and the best one for my money: a shrimp burger with bacon. A generous portion of Fried Calamari ($9.) which taste like they were just battered, can be requested done Buffalo style. A newer addition to the appetizers is a big hit with us: Bang Bang Shrimp ($9.) Crispy and covered with a sticky peppery/sweet sauce I found myself gobbling them up tail and all. Gadaleta pays close attention to his New England Clam Chowder ($5.), so creamy with almost no potatoes, just chewy fresh clams through and through. Build your own tacos from tuna, mahi mahi, shrimp or jerk chicken. Choose fried, grilled or rubbed and baked and then choose a sauce. One day I opted for three Grilled Tuna Tacos ($12.) and disappointed myself, discovering that rare tuna, while expertly seared, is just not the proper filling for tacos. Should’ve gotten fried, I needed some crunch.
Potato Wrapped Salmon ($16.) is excellent with a crunchy hash brown jacket. Pan Seared Snapper ($17.) is simply dressed with a few BBQ shrimp and sometimes that’s all people want out of a fish dish. Ocean Risotto ($16.) with shrimp, calamari, crab and mussels is a bit overcome by its tomato broth. Linguine and Clams ($15/$9) is a big hit. My small version is still generous, filled with chopped clams (as well as in the shell) so fresh that there’s a bit of grit from sand. I love that.
Blue Chill Fish House & Grill
117 Deer Park Ave.