There's a new restaurant on the boardwalk at Playland, and this one will have restaurant goers never wanting to leave the beach.
Doors opened May 1 at Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar, a new venture for business partners John Ambrose and Sam Chernin, who also own Rye's Seaside Johnnies.
The Tiki-Polynesian inspired restaurant features spectacular views of Long Island Sound in a casual setting, at the former site of Captain Hooks.
On a recent evening I tried out the new place and was offered an outside seat near the water. It ended up being bit chilly, but the views alone made it obvious the restaurant will become a favorite for outside dining.
The menu has a summery feel to it, with cocktails ranging in price from $8 for a glass of sangria or $28 for a pitcher and $11 for one of the signature drinks. The diverse drink selection could make the Tiki Bar a great after work happy hour destination.
We tried out the frozen margarita ($10) and the signature Reef Juice ($11). The large margarita was refreshing and the Reef Juice with Myer's Dark Rum, crème de banana, lime juice, grenadine, and pineapple was smooth and fruity.
We skipped the appetizers, choosing to munch instead on the complimentary bread and olives. However, the large appetizer menu is almost as diverse as the restaurant's drink menu, with tropical-inspired dishes like tiki chicken wings and coconut shrimp and classics like regular calamari and buffalo calamari. Appetizers ranged from $9 to $20.
Sampling the New England style fish and chips ($21) and the grilled chicken sandwich ($13), it was nice to find the seafood-themed menu has lots of choices for those who don't like fish. The restaurant pays attention to details, which we noticed when our food arrived. Both dishes came in wire baskets that looked like they were shaped in the form of a boat. The serving sizes were huge although the fish and chicken were a little bland.
For dessert, we were persuaded by our waitress' description to sample the chocolate dynamite ($7). The dessert, a three-layer chocolate cake consisting of a slightly hardened chocolate sauce, chocolate mousse, and a chocolate sponge cake served on a white platter drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce, was delicious although so rich we were glad we decided to split it.
The casual beach fare compliments the Tiki feel of the restaurant. A large center bar with a thatched roof, tables with tiki umbrellas, and Polynesian décor throughout the restaurant set the mood. The outside dining area is huge and the restaurant also offers a glass enclosed inside section. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with live music on Fridays and Saturdays, the place was packed with a line of about 20 people waiting by the time we left. The atmosphere and menu will appeal to a wide range of demographics, which we saw as families with young kids, teenagers, the after work set, and couples were all part of the dining crowd.
The service was good although it's clear they are still working out some of the kinks. When we first walked in we waited near the hostess stand, confused whether to seat ourselves, because no one came to greet us right away,even though there was a large amount of staff standing around. However, once seated, everything went smoothly. Our waitress, who admitted it was her first night, was patient as we mulled over the menu, quick to get anything we requested, knowledgeable about the food, and stopped by to check on us throughout the meal.
The atmosphere, views, music, and outdoor causal dining make Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar the perfect summer destination for those who want to spend a warm evening sipping drinks or enjoying a meal with great views of the Long Island Sound.
Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar 1 Playland Parkway Rye, NY 10580, (914) 967-1020, pierresturantandtikibar.com. About 200 spaces at Playland are reserved for restaurant parking, and with validation cost $2. The restaurant does not accept reservations after Memorial Day.