By Shoshanna McCollum
HOUSER’S HIDEAWAY has been reincarnated many times over the decades.
Yes, it was established in 1921, the year Ocean Beach became an incorporated village, and there really was a Mrs. Houser. She bequeathed the business to her foster son, Lowell Judson Smith. Through the 1940s and ‘50s, it was strictly an American Plan resort dining room for their hotel guests, with meals of the day served family style.
It became a full-fledged restaurant when Claire and Kenny Patterson purchased the establishment in 1968. Some might still remember Mrs. Patterson’s long court battle in the 1990s to obtain a variance to build the back deck patrons of the Hideaway now enjoy. This summer the establishment is now under the management of Rob and Erica Fogo, and everyone agrees the Hideaway is back!
The space has many amenities, including their private 12-slip marina making it attractive to boaters. The deck Claire Patterson fought so hard to obtain offers waterfront dining that is just a little more intimate than other bayside establishments, and lives up to the “hideaway” namesake. If the sun is just too much for the diner that day, the interior is bright and cheerful, with their eclectic, mismatched wrought iron chairs painted white.
Our waitress was the lovely Lisa Campbell, an Ocean Beach local who we have known forever. We chatted about nothing and everything.
For starters we went with the baked clams – you can tell a lot about the establishment by trying this staple appetizer. These were a harmonious blend of clams, sweet piquillo peppers, onion, and celery seasoned bread stuffing with shrimp. The meal was off to a strong beginning.
We also tried the mixed green and quinoa salad with spring greens, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and toasted, sliced almonds in a Dijon-lemon vinaigrette dressing. The quinoa makes it a hearty salad, and paired with the right appetizer, a diner could build a nice lite meal without question.
As for the main entrée, the carnivore husband went with the NY prime strip steak. It was served atop a generous portion of mashed potatoes and spinach. The green Chimichurri sauce gave the meal a South American twist. For the meat and potatoes lover in every crowd, one can’t go wrong here. The beef was grilled with great care, and the mashed prepared artisan style with a healthy dose of garlic.
This author is not vegetarian, but sometimes prefers to go meatless, so took a chance on one of the board specials. (It was presented on an actual wooden board!) The summer vegetable farfalle with bow-tie pasta, asparagus, spinach, carrots, and sun- dried tomatoes in a white wine and garlic olive oil broth sounded great. Chicken, shrimp, and salmon were add-on options, but so was tofu… not a selection offered readily on many menus. Tofu can be a risk. In the hands of the wrong chef, it will get mushy. Not in this case. Lightly fried, but tender on the inside it complemented the pasta dish most excellently.
Other vegetarian options the regular menu listed included the grilled Portabella mushroom with quinoa and seasonal vegetable stuffing. Maybe we will try that next time. Or maybe we’ll try a seafood dish like Jorge’s paella with lobster, clams, muscles, and shrimp. The customers at the next table appeared to be enjoying it very much.
Desserts at the Hideaway include cheesecakes and other confections catered by Junior’s, so you know a certain quality standard is assured. For cocktails, interesting options include the Hemingway daiquiri, Houser’s famous Zippy cooler–and something called “the local” with Crop cucumber vodka, watermelon puree, club soda and lime. This local is certainly willing to try one upon her return.
Houser’s Hideaway is located on Bay Walk between Ocean Breeze and Evergreen Walks • Telephone number 631-583-5929
• Lunch is served at the Hideaway daily from noon to 4 p.m.
• Dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m.
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