Dining Review: Marina Bar & Grill at the Blue Whale

By Robert LevineHaving dinner at the Marina Bar & Grill at the Blue Whale Restaurant in Fire Island Pines is a wonderful experience. The space has a comfortable, old-world vintage look, which has been updated this season with French café chairs, and elegant table settings of white tablecloths accessorized with black napkins. The soft lighting is perfect for an evening of dining at a local harbor side beach resort restaurant, with a view of the yachts.The original tile floor, which was installed in the 1960s, remains intact, giving the space a special look that no other place on Fire Island has. This is the same room where the first historical Tea Dance began under the direction of John Whyte. This is also the same room where the first benefit for GMHC was held in 1986, and the first benefit for God’s Love We Deliver, held in 1987. This is the place where so many legendary events began.Jay, our waiter, has been with the Blue Whale for the past three years and gave us his full attention throughout the evening. The entire wait staff is elegantly dressed, and they serve their guests with ease.The menu is diverse. We began with seasonal oysters and crispy calamari with jalapeno rémoulade sweet chili sauce. Then we enjoyed the Grilled Hanger Steak Bites with crispy Parmesan potatoes, and Crab & Shrimp Cakes with grilled corn and red pepper rémoulade. Dessert was a delicious rich Chocolate Mousse.Other items on the menu include Truffled Mac & Cheese, Tuna Tartare, Steak au poivre Sliders, Chicken Piccata, Southern Fried Chicken Sliders, Lobster Sliders, Shrimp Tostadas, Fish & Chips, Crispy Lobster Wontons, Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Shrimp Cocktail, Truffle Fries, Steamed Mussels, Miso-Glazed Cod, Kale Salad and Caesar Salad. All the entrees listed on the menu could make a fine dinner, or nice snack after Tea Dance. The extensive wine list will complement your meal. The bar is strictly top shelf brands, and mixed drinks are made to order.The restaurant opens after Low Tea at 8:30 p.m., every night except Wednesday, when they have Bingo on the outside deck. Dinner is served until midnight. During July and August, a reservation is strongly advised, especially on weekends.Additional entertainment at the Blue Whale includes their Drag Brunch every Saturday, produced by Brandon Voss and featuring Bootsie and Jada Valenciaga, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. On Sundays, brunch with John Putnam and his Used Blues jazz band is held from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The place becomes an open mic Piano Bar, with Jack Aaronson at the grand piano, on Friday and Saturday nights, from 10 p.m.-2 a.m.Blue Whale could be considered the crown jewel of the business empire owned and operated by PJ McAteer, but of course the royal treasure includes many fine gems. Located on the outside deck across from the bar is shopping at the General Store. At the recently redesigned sister establishment known as the Canteen, one can get salads, burgers, fish taco sandwiches and lighter fare.The Pavilion is McAteer’s world-famous nightclub. Here, one can take in the Pavilion Performance Series by Brandon Voss, on Saturdays, from 6-10 p.m. On Sunday nights, Voss Events produces Showtune at 11 p.m., which gives you a chance to relax, see a show and have fun.What has attracted much attention at the Pavilion this summer is the “LOVE” art installation, which is on loan for the season, created by California- based, American contemporary artist Laura Kimpton. Of course it is evocative of the spirit of the recently deceased Robert Indiana, but Kimpton’s statement is fun, spontaneous, and its Pines visitors and residents alike love interacting with it.If you are in the mood for pizza at any time of the day, Pines Pizza has a variety of pizza toppings to accommodate your taste buds. It has other easy take-outs as well, or you can have coffee and dessert while looking out and watching all the boys go by on Fire Island Boulevard.In the same building upstairs is the Bistro, a fine dining experience with a menu to suit everyone’s taste, and a place to enjoy a quiet evening with a friend, partner or to have a special occasion dinner. On the same upper deck, the celebrated Sip-n-Twirl is open for drinks, dancing, and celebrating good times with friends. On Monday nights they offer Lip Sync for a Drink, followed by a movie. (Movie titles each week are on to be announced terms.)Then there is the Aqua Pool Series on weekends, from noon to 5 p.m., with a DJ and dancing around the pool. Fun Tea around the pool is another happy event on Friday and Saturday, from 7-10 p.m.Stay fit at the gym with seasonal membership, day passes or a 20-ticket entry pack.In Fire Island Pines there is something for everyone – 24 hours a day. For more information, visit pinesfi.com or call 631-597-6500.