If you're in the neighborhood, this is the spot for lunch
I’ll be honest, I was confused when I walked into the Gourmet Whaler. I was expecting a trendy, gold-coast lunch spot, as described to me by a Cold Spring Harbor local. What I saw was a fun, nautically-themed, old-timey general store, coffee shop, and casual lunch spot.
Upon entering, I was greeted by a display case of fudge—to which I immediately exclaimed, “OOH! FUDGE!” I am not ashamed to admit that I ran up to it like a kid, put both of my hands on the glass, and looked at the flavors. I barely noticed my wife’s side-eye. I swear.
To the left of the entrance is a legitimate coffee bar followed by a coffee goods display and a candy display behind that. The right side of the restaurant has a good amount of tables arranged in a way that I would describe as cozy but not crowded. There was enough room for me to negotiate the tables with the baby stroller and park our youngest son beside the table, with minimal inconvenience to the couple seated at the next table.
We were seated within five minutes. The menu wasn’t overly-complicated, which I always appreciate, and clearly indicated the establishment’s specialties. I dislike having to ask the staff which dish is a restaurant known for as I almost always opt to critique an establishment based on their signature dish.
The day was hot, so I immediately paroused the drinks. The Gourmet Whaler has a fantastic selection of Galvanina Italian sodas. I chose the Red Grapefruit and proceeded to gulp thirstily, forgetting that I was once again a food writer; hence the partially-drained bottle in this photo. Don’t worry, they serve full bottles.
We placed our orders and they arrived toot sweet. I had the “Famous” fish tacos and my wife got the steak sandwich. Our son got a hotdog. Our son always gets a hotdog. No matter what’s on the menu. If there is an option for a hot dog on the menu, you can rest assured that our four-year-old will want to order it.
According to their menu, the “Famous” fish tacos consist of panko breaded fried flounder with signature slaw, chipotle mayo, and peach/mango salsa. I have to tell you, I enjoyed the flavors of this meal. It wasn’t perfect, but it was bright and delicious. My only [real] complaint was that the fish was drowning in the “signature slaw.” I think the amount of slaw on one of these tacos would have been the right amount for both of them. That being said, the fish was fresh, flaky, and the panko crust gave it a wonderful crunch to contrast the soft taco shell.
The chipotle mayo wasn’t too spicy and brought the entire bite together. I added some of the peach/mango salsa atop the taco and it was delightful. A squeeze of a lime wedge added a bit of acidity to cut the salt and sweet. Then entire dish was a bright and cheerful bounty, laid upon a soft tortilla cornucopia.
The tacos paired well with the grapefruit soda and I could not be happier with my choice for lunch. I tried a bite of my wife’s steak sandwich and I liked it as well. I’m confident that no matter what I would have ordered here, I would have enjoyed it.
Overall, the Gourmet Whaler has a lot of things going for it. The service is wonderful and food is good. I loved the decor, which fits well with the town’s whaling history. I gave this spot a respectable 3.5 out of 5 plates of bacon for good food, great service, and fun ambiance.
If I’m ever in Cold Spring Harbor, and feeling hungry, I will definitely return to the Gourmet Whaler for a bite to eat and you should too.
If you want to read about another great lunch spot, check out my review of the Rex Burger & Lobster.