Worth the Drive: Tom Schaudel Opens Kingfish Oyster Bar in Westbury

Kingfish Oyster Bar opened this July in Westbury. • Photo courtesy of Newsday

On Thursday, July 26, celebrated Long Island chef Tom Schaudel launched his newest project, Kingfish Oyster Bar, with a soft opening, with the hard opening following on Sunday, July 29. The luxuriously decorated restaurant—floors are mosaic marble, freestanding chairs a dusty blue leather, to name a few inspired touches—takes up residence in Westbury’s Vanderbilt, a luxury rental building in western Nassau County.

Chef Schaudel has always been known for his clean, fresh approach, and Kingfish demonstrates the same ethos. The menu is sincere and ambitious without being erudite. The focus here, as one might expect, is seafood, which makes an appearance in numerous iterations. Guests are greeted, upon entering, by a long, marble-esque raw bar, where they can choose between eight types of oysters, raw clams, various rotating crudos, littleneck clams, and a seafood tower.

In the dining room, fish reigns supreme. Grilled oysters (5 to a plate, for $18) come with a choice of various accompanying “dressings,” ranging from caviar to sriracha mayonnaise. Appetizers run from land to sea. Colorado lamb ribs, served with a white barbecue sauce and lightly dressed cubes of cold watermelon, fall off the bone, and although the Kingfish ramen, adorned with egg and crab, was not available during the soft opening, one can surmise that similar greatness will follow.

For entrees, there are fish-based pastas (paccheri with soft shell crab; razor clam carbonara), local fish preparations (yellowfin tuna; striped bass; cod), and land-loving delights (a 22-ounce bone-in rib eye is no joke). Chef Schaudel also offers any of the fresh, local fish grilled simply, with olive oil, for those interested in the purity of the protein.

For dessert, opt either for the coffee blondie—essentially a brownie-in-a-skillet, but better—or the panna cotta-like ricotta budino, studded with market-fresh berries. But don’t ignore the curated wine list, a small but impressive nod to Long Island winemakers and boutique international producers alike; for my money, the Paul Achs red blend, a standout from Burgenland, Austria, speaks to the merit of Kingfish’s content.