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|The Great Fish Market, an oil painting by Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625).|
Enter Seafood Gourmet's market and restaurant in Maywood, walk past the fresh fish in the refrigerated cases and take a seat in the small dining room in the rear. When you're handed the menu of specials, it's likely the fish you just saw will be on it.
The Maywood restaurant was our fall-back. We tried to have dinner late Saturday afternoon at Grand Lux Cafe, next to the AMC movie theaters in Paramus, but the mall parking lot was packed and we tired of looking for a space.
Grand Lux is described as an "upsacle casual restaurant" from the creator of The Cheesecake Factory, with food inspired by the menus of Italian trattorias, French bistros and Viennese pastry shops. Next time.
Looking around the 36-seat dining room at Seafood Gourmet, which we haven't visited for about a year, I thought, This place could be called a 'joint,' in a good way. But when I asked about the mismatched wall covering and paint, the waitress said a small expansion was under way to add a few more seats.
Wild salmon and Florida grouper were two of the choices on the specials menu, so I picked Salmon Oscar, with crab risotto and asparagus ($21.99). My wife and son shared a Seafood Festival -- angel-hair pasta with lots of crab, lobster and shrimp ($24.99).
Each of them had a cup of delicious lobster bisque and I enjoyed the cream of fresh mushroom soup. We were charged for one bisque ($2.95), so the others must come with the entrees. There are free refills when you order the excellent lemonade and plain seltzer ($1.95 each).
I asked for my salmon medium-rare, but it came cooked through. Still, it was moist, and the fish, risotto and three crunchy asparagus added up to a beautifully balanced meal. My wife found her pasta dish too rich, saying it was made with butter and cheese, but she took home the leftovers.
We have always liked the food and service at Seafood Gourmet, and plan return visits. I can't think of another fish market-restaurant. It reminds me of the old DiSalvo's in Hackensack, but the cooking at the Maywood restaurant is more sophisticated.
Seafood Gourmet, 103 W. Pleasant Ave.,
BYOB, free street parking, reservations recommended on weekends.