photo: courtesy of McCormick & Schmick's
Crabs don't come cheap. Ditto for salmon, swordfish and other fine eats from the deep. So when you're ready to flex the wallet in the name of great seafood, which dining spots are worth your dime?
The simple answer to reeling in the best catch is to head for seafood restaurants that are always busy—fresh in, fresh out.
From a simple fillet to a complex fish stew, here are five seafood restaurants that have their act together.
Go bonkers over the bouillabaisse at Oceanique
This treasure trove of seafood serves a bouillabaisse that's one of the best this side of Marseilles. Expect a stew-like dish that's chock-full of seafood: halibut, turbot, shrimp, squid and mussels. Chef-owner Mark Grosz knows his seafood, and his ever-changing menu serves as a marquee for seafood done with one eye on France and one on contemporary American cuisine. Dine on pan-seared Coho salmon with butternut squash or seared Day Boat scallops in a lobster-cilantro broth. The plush yet casual setting packs enough panache to qualify it as romantic, and conversation is not the least bit challenged. Drink from the outstanding wine list.
Discover unabashed luxury at Avenues
Avenues in the Peninsula Hotel is top-drawer in every respect. Seventy seats, all nicely spaced, afford a special brand of privacy. Its quiet luxury competes with the view and the contest ends in a dead heat. Service is impeccable, the wine list is extensive...how could it get any better? A totally seafood dinner by chef de cuisine Graham Elliot Bowles might include carpacccio of lobster to start followed by wild sturgeon with celery root risotto or Dover sole with crisp polenta cake. But come back to land for dessert: You must order the sinfully rich chocolate gateau.
Order the seafood du jour at McCormick & Schmick's
The nautical atmosphere is played down, but there is no mistaking what this restaurant is all about. Menus are printed daily and serve as a testament to McCormick's fresh catch philosophy. The "Fresh List" that lines the top of the menu presents no fewer than 30 choices. Monkfish, catfish, oysters, grouper, lobster, shark—they're all not long from the water. Simple dishes like fish and chips feel right at home alongside an elaborate presentation of seafood Newburg. Salad lovers will get along swimmingly with the Seafood Cobb, made with crab, shrimp and scallops. If you want total privacy, snag one of the cozy snugs.
Take your crab with class at Joe's Seafood
Stone crabs are the signature catch at Joe's and are the best this side of Florida. Choose from various sizes—medium, large and jumbo—though you'll have a hefty market price for the bigguns. If the crab catch doesn't do it for you, choose from a boatload of options: grilled fish, lobster, Alaskan King crab legs, crab-stuffed sole and more. As for when to indulge, Joe's packs it all in one neat package: bar scene, power lunch, special occasion dinner. You'll find a cool atmosphere with a classic supper club feel that's noisy when full, but that just adds to the fun (or frustration, depending on your point of view).
Take surf with your turf at Hugo's Frog Bar
Hugo's is practically an annex to Gibsons Steakhouse, so you can expect the same brand of power-eater and bubbling-over atmosphere. Tables are nigh upon one another, so elbow bumping is allowed. You'll find the eponymous frog legs, but don't be afraid to pass them up for seafood and more seafood. The menu comes packed with a whole lotta lobster and lobster tails, along with Shrimp de Jonghe, whitefish and tilapia. Savvy waiters are quick to point out that you have the option of ordering any item from the Gibsons menu; how's that for the ultimate in surf and turf choices?