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Louie’s: Classic seafood with views of Manhasset Bay

Louie's is a classic seafood restaurant that has thoroughly stood the test of time. It opened in 1905 on a floating barge anchored in Manhasset Bay, only accessible by boat. In 1916 it moved adjacent to the town dock. In the early '30s, it moved once again to its current location on Main Street - but it is still accessible by boat, although there's ample room in the parking lot for landlubbers. In 2002 after a mere 97 years of ownership by the Zwerlein family, Louie's was purchased by Martin Picone and Mike Guinnane. The new owners undertook a major renovation, and put their own stamp on it. The dining rooms have a new "old" feel to them with faux-painted tin ceilings, a mahagony bar and lots of brass.We were lured to Louie's for the Monday night "Wine & Song on the Water," which includes a three-course dinner paired with six different Australian wines and live entertainment. If they offered this deal to liven up what would otherwise have been a slow night, they must have succeeded beyond expectations, because, had we not made a reservation, we would have had to wait a while for a table. The music was indeed live as advertised. A singer was performing Frank Sinatra covers fairly convincingly, eliminating conversation as an option with the sound system's decibel level. We were grateful to be seated at the outer reaches of the outdoor deck, far enough away from the music not to notice it. Old Blue Eyes was never our thing. We decided that one of us would order from the regular menu and the other from the special wine tasting menu, as the imbibing of six glasses with dinner exceeds our capacity. We were pleased to note that the wine tasting menu included the majority of items from the regular menu, giving plenty of choices. For starters we chose oysters and clam chowder. We gave ourselves a mental pat on the back as both clams and oysters are rated "Ocean Friendly" by the Blue Ocean Institute, an organization dedicated to the conservation of our oceans. (You can find out how they rate other species of seafood and why by going to www.blueoceaninstitute.org/seafood.) Farming oysters can help restore formerly depleted local oyster populations and also provide structural diversity to bay bottoms. Oysters and clams feed by filtering nutrients from the surrounding water, helping to improve water quality. Aside from doing our bit to save the oceans, the chilled oysters were delectable. If you are a raw seafood lover, don't hesitate. The clam chowder was also excellent, rich and creamy with an intense seafood flavor.For entrees we chose crab cakes and bassa. The crab cakes were large and the crabbiest we have encountered - mostly crab with very little filler. They were grilled rather than fried. Both are qualities that should lower the guilt index for dieters. Environmentalists can hold on to some of that guilt, as blue crabs are in the "yellow zone" in the ocean-friendly ratings.The bassa, a special of the day, was a farmed fish from Vietnam, rather like tilapia. It is a bland fish, which was not successfully jazzed up with sauces or interesting accompaniments in this case.To complete our meal, we indulged in Louie's signature dessert - key lime pie, made with real key limes (what else?) It was a perfect finale by which to watch the final glow of the sun disappear, giving way to the harbor lights.The Bottom LineA classic waterfront seafood restaurant. Arrive by car or boat, and enjoy fresh seafood simply prepared while soaking up the view. Australian wine tasting dinners on Mondays. Thursdays are Ladies Nights with complimentary cosmos and live reggae music. Check the time of the sunset, and make your reservations accordingly.Louie's Oyster Bar & Grill395 Main St.Port Washington516-883-4242Cuisine: Fish and seafood and some non-aquatic alternatives Setting: Indoor and outdoor dining in classic seafood restaurant style.Service: Professional.Hours: L&D dailyReservations: RecommendedParking: Private lot across street.Dress: CasualChildren: WelcomeTakeout: Yes Private Parties: YesCredit cards: The usual Noise level: The music is loud, but you can ask to be seated far from its source. Handicap accessible: YesRecommended DishesOysters on half shellÉP/ALouie's Clam ChowderÉ$4.50Jumbo Lump Maryland Crab CakeÉ$8.95Louie's Classic Fish and ChipsÉ$8.95Fried OystersÉ$12.95Fried Seafood Combination (scrod, scallops, calamari and shrimp)É$15.95Grilled Yellowfin TunaÉ$17.95Wine tasting dinner (Mondays only)É$34.95

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