Sunday morning. Out on the town violating all my deeply held beliefs doing some Sunday shopping: looking for a 2-1/8” plastic thingy to fit into the 2-1/8” hole Catherine drilled in the desk at home to route the cables for the home iMac. Home Depot. Staples. Canadian Tire. No luck.
Catherine professes great hunger, and suggests an emergency trip to Wendy’s. Concerned about my family’s health, I make an emergency diversion out of town, away from Wendy’s and 15 minutes later we’re in one of the Rusticos pulling in to dayboat, the self-important two year old restaurant that, among other things, was the subject of an episode of the television program Opening Soon.
I’d resisted dayboat from the very beginning: the owners came across on TV as highfalutin New Yorkers eager to pull primitive Islanders into their century; trusted restaurant aficionados reported meek service and lackluster food. And I wasn’t sure, given all that, that I was willing to risk $100 on what might turn out to be a mediocre, or at least pompous experience.
I was bought off by the promise of a lobster lunch. Somewhat at odds with the high-class halo of the place, dayboat advertises $13.95 “Lobster Lunches” on a big sign out front. We were hungry, Wendy’s was nipping at our heels, and I had to take quick evasive action. Here’s how it went:
- Service was alternatively excellent and absent. When it was good, it was attentive and helpful. When it was absent, well, we felt abandoned. It took 15 minutes to pay.
- Flies, dead and alive. Okay if you’re on the wharf; when you’re paying $7 for a salad I would like there to be no flies.
- There weren’t actually any “Lobster Lunches” on for $13.95. One assumes, perhaps naively, that a “Lobster Lunch” means you get to eat a lobster; there were products-of-lobster on the menu — sandwiches, salads, pasta, etc. — but not any actual lobsters. And they were out of chowder.
- My “Lobster Club” was excellent: everything you would ever want in a clubhouse sandwich served on very nice break, with lots of lobster. I would order it again.
- Catherine’s “Lobster Napoleon” salad, she reported, needed more punch.
- Oliver’s green salad was a green salad.
- The view is spectacular, and the space has been completely enlivened from its dark old days as Café St. Jean. They may be highfalutin, but the owners know how to design a restaurant.
- The washrooms are shockingly small and poorly arranged; they are a glaring hole in an otherwise well thought-out space.
- The video cameras in the ceiling — the Opening Soon episode pointed them out as a way for the owners to monitor the place from afar — are creepy.
In the end, we walked away well-fed and not overly disappointed. But certainly not with the impression that there’s anything all that special about dayboat; it doesn’t live up to its transcendent billing.
For dessert, by the way, we drove up Route 6 to The Dunes. The Dunes is transcendent, but its transcendence is completely without self-importance. The service was excellent, the setting out-of-this-world, and the dessert was very, very good.