Sunday, November 24, 2013

At Seafood Gourmet: With great fish, I make poor choices

Almost all of the fresh seafood you see on ice in the market, above, is served in the adjoining dining room at Seafood Gourmet in Maywood.

By Victor E. Sasson

With only about 35 seats, getting a weekend table at Seafood Gourmet in Maywood is a challenge.

The popular fish market-restaurant reminds me of DiSalvo's on Main Street in Hackensack, where I enjoyed many great lunches of fried calamari topped with a spicy red sauce in the years I worked nearby.

But Seafood Gourmet offers a wider variety of seafood and more sophisticated preparations than DiSalvo's, which closed and was eventually replaced by a Cuban restaurant.

I called Seafood Gourmet on Saturday afternoon and was told we could dine at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. The week before, there wasn't a free table until 8:30 p.m.

Sole Francaise with roasted potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Lots of choice

At lunch, Seafood Gourmet offers 13 different fish fillets or shrimp, scallops, lobster tails and other seafood, either simply broiled or grilled, and at dinner there is a choice of 18.

Fourteen are available fried, and the menu also lists appetizers, salads, sandwiches, a raw bar and even chicken dishes.

A tank in the market held live Canadian lobsters for $12.99 a pound.

Oscar who?

What did I do? I fell for one of the specials, Halibut Oscar ($25.99), prepared with a sherry glaze, topped with crab meat and served with risotto and fresh asparagus.

When I ordered, our waiter said the halibut had run out (at 5 p.m.?), and Chilean sea bass was being substituted.

That sea bass is actually the brutish Patagonian toothfish, which is over-fished and high in mercury, so I asked for something else and was offered wild salmon.

The king salmon, which I also saw displayed on ice in the adjacent market, was nicely prepared and moist throughout.

I liked the dish, but being on a diet, I could have done without all that risotto. With a simply prepared fish fillet, I could have asked for steamed vegetables.

And I wanted a salad, but our server apparently didn't hear me.

He didn't charge me for the cup of delicious Red Snapper Chowder I also picked from the specials menu, and the choice with my entree was either soup or salad.

He did the same for the cups of tasty Lobster Bisque my wife and mother-in-law ordered.

And I heard him offering specials to others, but not to me, including the rarely seen arctic char and grey sole.

King Salmon Oscar topped with crab meat. I asked that the dish be prepared without butter.

Perfect shrimp

My wife had linguine with jumbo shrimp in vodka sauce ($21.99), substituting that pasta for penne and asking the kitchen to hold the scallops that also come with the dish.

She said the crunchy shrimp were cooked perfectly.

And my mother-in-law ordered Sole Francaise in a lemon-butter sauce with roasted potatoes and mixed vegetable (also $21.99).

Neither could finish their meals, and took home leftovers. 

I counted 34 seats in the narrow, somewhat cramped dining room.

We did a lot of waiting for the food, and a takeout order of steamed clams ($9.99) I asked for when the busboy picked up the unfinished entrees to pack them.

It's likely the kitchen couldn't keep up with the orders, because there were three servers and the busboy, and not all the tables were full.

The Restaurant at Seafood Gourmet, 103 W. Pleasant Ave., Maywood; 201-843-8558. BYO, free street parking, open for lunch and dinner, closed Sundays.

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