Meat-free Fridays are no longer a challenge, thanks to the city's strong selection of seafood-fueled dishes. From fried calamari to tasty tempura, these local spots are serving up plenty of tempting dishes throughout the Lenten season.
David Burke's Primehouse
Sure, David Burke's may be known for its expertise in the meat department, but executive chef Rick Gresh also knows a thing or two about oceanic fare. The chopped seafood salad ($9/$16) featuring shrimp, tuna, avocado, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, mango and mixed greens with a citrus dressing should make for a satisfying lunch. And though you won't be splurging on a steak for dinner, you can still indulge with one of the chilled seafood platters (featuring shrimp, oysters, mussels, crab, salmon tartare and calamari salad, $39/$72).
photo: courtesy of C-House
Fish and chips
If there's one thing this downtown restaurant knows how to do, it's seafood. The menu's fresh selections are endless and the restaurant's raw bar is just as pleasing. And while all these options promote figure-friendly eating, we recommend the one that encourages frequent trips to the gym; C-House's classic fish 'n' chips, $19 ($17 for lunch). The restaurant adds a gourmet touch to the dish with homemade ketchup and tartar sauce for dipping. And hey, if you're going all out, you may as well finish your meal with a handful of rum raisin clusters, some pistachio brittle or a cup of banana-hazelnut hot cocoa, prepared by pastry chef Toni Roberts.
Red Light's regular vegetarian menu offers a bevy of meatless alternatives, including a lineup of small plates for sharing. Crispy tempura artichokes get served with sweet, spicy and salty dipping sauces, $7. Another tempting choice is the classic Vietnamese spring roll with vegetables and rice noodles, rolled in a Vietnamese rice paper and served with sweet chili vinaigrette, $6. If you're steering clear of the fried stuff this season, try the roasted eggplant with sweet peas and potatoes in a shiitake mushroom broth, $6. Entrees include phad see ewe with shiitake mushrooms, egg and sweet soy ($17) and the popular kung pao tofu with peanuts, scallions and pea shoots, $14. If you can handle the spice, go for Red Light's potato curry with bean sprouts, mushrooms and sweet peas, or keep it simple with a the pesto fried rice and veggies.
Fulton's on the River
Here's to another local spot that knows how to please with its traditional English preparation of Pembrokeshire fish 'n' chips, $14.95 (available for lunch). The fried favorite is served with tartar sauce and malt vinegar, just like the Brits enjoy it. While youíre waiting for your entree, try one of Fulton's meatless appetizers, like the deep-seared calamari with lime-mustard sauce or the Maryland-style crab cake with coleslaw and tartar sauce.
photo: courtesy of Martini Park
Martini Park's menu offers a sweet and sour lineup of sizzling seafood options for Lent. First, there's the Thai-style calamari with a sweet and tangy flavor that just might make you swear off meat for good, $11. And if that's not enough to soothe your carnivorous craving, order up a plate of the bar's sweet and sour tempura shrimp with fried veggies and Thai dipping sauce, $12.
Suburban folks can stay on track during Lent with Glen Prairie's down-home menu. Crispy appetizers like the buttermilk-fried garlic and herb cheese-stuffed mushrooms (served with horseradish sauce for dipping, $7) are a welcome substitute for the restaurant's tempting beef tenderloin with pearl couscous. And while Glen Prairie's main selection of meat dishes warrant a good once-over, its chervil-crusted Wisconsin Northern pike, served with mac 'n' cheese and sauteed green beans ($18) will quickly divert your gaze, along with any ill intentions.
This pan-Asian spot's got a Lent-friendly dish or two up its culinary sleeve as well. We recommend starting with the restaurant's Hawaiian panko crab cakes appetizer, served with pineapple-almond salsa and ginger tobiko butter, $11. You may have trouble sharing this one, but you'll need room for the striped bass entree, anyway. The tempura-style fish gets served with sesame jasmine rice, wok-tossed veggies and black bean garlic sauce, $25.