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Shoreside retreat puts the city behind you

Castaways of Webster offers solid food and solitude

What if going out to eat was like a vacation? In Webster, Castaways on the Lake erases the tensions of your day with a lakeside view and seafood menu that mirrors your favorite trips to the ocean.

The main dining room of Castaways is small, and the décor doesn’t target a specific seaside region. Owner Shane DiMora is from Florida, and his wife is from Virginia, so there are touches of those regions, along with New England. The reason, however, to come to Castaways lies beyond the dining room on a monstrous deck overlooking Lake Ontario—the restaurant’s crown jewel. Sitting along the deck railing will put you inches away from the water, presenting you—on a good day—with a calming, unobstructed view. You might have stopped in for a quick bite on your lunch hour, but you may want to take the rest of the day off to soak it all in.

Flaky, mustardy crab cakes are a bit different from what you might expect.

DiMora knows his seafood from years in the industry and has added a few twists to traditional recipes. On the surface, the nicely fried crab cakes appear to be similar to what’s available on the Chesapeake Bay, but they had a hint of mustard instead of the Old Bay seasoning we were expecting: our first pleasant twist.

Lobster rolls are usually served on a small New England–style split toast roll, but our second twist at Castaways was a more satisfying, easier to eat sandwich. A grilled and buttered hoagie roll is the foundation for big chunks of lobster mixed with mayo and spices. The lobster mixed with the mayo made a bit of a mess on the plate, seeping under the sandwich. This is where the hoagie roll does double duty, holding things together while you eat.

Castaways’ fried haddock sandwich is served open-faced with a large portion of golden-fried haddock planked over half of the toasted bun, with lettuce and tomato on the other half. Thumbs up to Castaways for serving it like this, as it makes it easy to remove any garnish you may not want before you dig into the sandwich. The fish was breaded lightly to allow a small amount of crunch, easier to eat than plopping a regular fish fry onto a bun, like you may find at other places.

Sandwiches come with a choice of fries, macaroni salad, or coleslaw. We eschewed the fries to test the other two sides and came away impressed. The coleslaw was well-balanced between tart and sweet and had ample crunch. The macaroni salad was light and seasoned with mustard.

Though we didn’t order it for lunch, DiMora recommends the restaurant’s signature New England steamer pot for dinner patrons. A generous bucket of lobster, clams, shrimp, salt potatoes, and corn-on-the-cob is served for sharing in a galvanized aluminum bucket.

DiMora’s final twist was the dessert. Castaways’ deep-fried bread pudding is tossed with cinnamon sugar and poured into a martini glass. The chunks are then drizzled with caramel and topped with whipped cream. You will have enough to share with another person, but you’ll find it hard to do so.

Castaways is true lakeside dining that’s hard to beat on a sultry summer day. Grab a seat by the water and enjoy yourself. In fact, take the rest of the day off—as a vacation.

Juan Vazquez is a journalist and social media manager for WXXI Public Broadcasting.


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