Seafood restaurant Notkins gets a look from Lesley Chesterman in the Gazette today. The critic was initially stoked to learn that noted oyster shucker Daniel Notkin, backed by a diverse group of partners, was about to open his own place last year: "Now this, I thought, would be interesting! Yet I kept hearing I should wait. So I did, a whole seven months, before heading to Notkins last week." The digs are spiffy, the wine list, curated by Ryan Gray and Cassady Sniatowsky, is solid and the oysters impress. This comes as no surprise to Chesterman, who admits that the "big test here would be the food."
Starters the critc calls "easy-sells [such] as popcorn shrimp, fried clams, salmon tartare and seafood pasta" mostly hit the target. Still, "there are details here that need to be finessed." Steamed mussels stand out but "for $15, the portion was too small." Mains do "pretty well" but fail to muster much enthusiasm. An exception is the fish tacos, which Chesterman "would happily return for" alone.
The Gazette critic is stringent when it comes to sweets. Sadly, Notkins falters here. "The desserts, alas, won’t draw me back anytime soon." Blunders in the front of the house prompt Chesterman to describe service as friendly but "far from polished." Ultimately, Notkins merits two stars on four and this final judgment: "I’m optimistic about Notkins because the ingredients are first-rate and there’s a real interest in this kind of fish and especially seafood-driven cuisine. But there’s a lack of professionalism that proves that though Mr. Notkin is a champion oyster shucker, he has yet to prove himself as a restaurateur."