Catching a Great Meal
Van Morrison’s evocative sea-song lyrics floated on the breeze as we pulled open the main hatch at Pelican’s Net restaurant, located on the main highway, State Route 54, which connects the outside world to this very charming lakeside town of Hammondsport, New York.
Pelican’s Net Coastal Grille & Draught House is a classic roadside landing, luring in the hungry dinner guest with a welcoming aged and weathered exterior, classic dock-style posts, and thick hemp rope draped about, giving the look of a lagoon-style seafood shack. Don’t let the rustic décor fool you...the cuisine offered inside has made the stuff of recent local legends.
Twin brothers, Mark and Mike Waldrop, opened Pelican’s Net a few years ago with an earnest desire to serve the absolute freshest, highest-quality seafood and premium meats available. They are meticulous about their sources and sourcing, gathering the best ingredients with gusto and passion while maintaining a light, fun attitude, serving their loyal (new and returning) customers with a warm handshake, a smile, and expertly prepared cuisine.
“We take our fish mongers and meat purveyors very seriously, striving for top tier products from around the country,” Mark says.
Their education in the restaurant business includes a long stint learning the ropes in The Branding Iron, their mother’s (Judy Pear) well-known Keuka Lake establishment. There, as teens, they learned how to bus tables, prep, and manage the front and back of the house. They studied the ins and outs of marketing, and learned customer service, all of which they apply today in a professional, yet very warm, manner.
The Twins, as they’re known around Hammondsport, finally ended up opening their own place in the late summer of 2011. Since then the two high-spirited brothers have been a team, feeding hungry land lubbers and captains’ crews, steering Pelican’s Net together through rough waters and challenging winds of change, all the while creating a place to share their passion for great American cuisine. Naysayers said running and sustaining a successful seafood and steak house in the middle of upstate New York, with its harsh winters and fickle tourism seasons, couldn’t be done. But the two forged on with their passion and dream and now have a very loyal following, anchored, so to speak, in a fabulous location.
Moor yourself at Pelican’s Net intimate bar for a very well-rounded selection of local, regional, and national brews, or explore the wide range of wine offerings from the Finger Lakes region. The twins also offer hand-crafted cocktails derived from age-old mixologists’ recipes, and spontaneous creations using locally sourced products and unique combinations.
The specter of seasonal highs and lows could give even the most jaded pirate the shivers, but the twins handle that aspect of their business masterfully. People often travel great distances to partake of the intimate and caring atmosphere Mark and Mike create for their patrons. It’s home away from home for many people who are seeking a high-quality meal, no matter how far the drive.
Mark and Mike work as a team, managing the kitchen, creating mixology, handling seating, the restaurant floor, and the customers’ needs. Their focused, hands-on technique is obvious from the second you cross the threshold, from the fun, sea-shack décor, to the savory scents wafting from the kitchen. They do their best to spend time with each customer, chatting in between trips to the bar and kitchen.
The siren song of any quality seafood/steak restaurant is product freshness. Mark and Mike have their raw cargo regularly shipped from high-end purveyors at mid-west beef markets and from the seafood markets on the East, West, and Gulf coasts. The twins’ skill is reflected in the well-rounded, rotating menu which features classic seafood dishes, and seasonal offerings of Chilean sea bass, tuna, salmon, and mahi-mahi. Pelican’s Net also offers premium New York strip steak, prime rib, BBQ ribs, pot roast poutine, and their own gourmet burgers, created from a specific mix of ground beef that has a delicate fat to lean ratio.
Their creamy, homemade lobster bisque, French onion soup, and New England clam chowder are prepared using quality ingredients, showcasing the best of what these hearty soups have to offer.
Lighter fare includes a sh sandwich, grilled chicken sandwich (with fries, slaw, or salt potatoes), gourmet po’ boys stacked high, crabcakes, and classic dinner salads with field greens. The famous homemade corn bread complements many of the main dishes; sides of fresh corn, green vegetables, or buttery salt potatoes are perfectly consistent with what one would expect from a traditional ocean-side seafood shack.
Take note: the luscious cheese cake with fresh fruit compote and other fun desserts may be required to finish off this dining experience.
Pelican’s Net features intimate live entertainment on weekends, showcasing local acts and DJs, often with a theme attached, like “Frank Sinatra Night” or “Saint Pat’s Party.”
Pelican’s Net is easy to find, with plenty of parking on both sides of the building at 8465 State Route 54. Seasonal hours do apply. Reservations are recommended. Call Mark or Mike at (607) 569-3536.