By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Casual preparations that echo the more laid-back Sea Breeze days were as good as they were described in articles printed years ago. Fried oysters sported a crunchy coat of cornmeal with tender juicy bivalves inside, and an order of steamed mussels served in an aluminum sauce pan were lemony, herbal and bright.
A po'boy was a letdown, though. It needed several hundred more shrimp and was tucked into an under-cooked loaf. Po'boys in New Orleans bust at the seams with seafood and shed shards of crust with every bite, but bread across the board at Sea Breeze is lackluster. The restaurant should tell their baker to leave each loaf in the oven a little longer. Or maybe just find a better baker.
Fried steamer clams were worse, dredged in corn flour that yielded a soggy exterior. For the most part, however, and especially in the simpler preparations, Sea Breeze produces winning casual seafood plates.
That crabcake won't fool a native Marylander — there's far too much filler and not enough jumbo lump meat in each cake — but it just may, just barely, satiate a homesick food writer more than 1,300 miles from the dock he grew up on. Just like that lobster roll won't fool someone who's grown up in New England — the kitchen uses frozen meat, there's not enough of it and it costs twice as much as a casual seafood restaurant outside of Boston — but it's good enough for a fix, and without a doubt that buttery roll will take that New Englander back to the coast. Same as that Key lime pie: It might not stand up to a discerning Floridian's standards, but here? It's more than good enough.
"We're a seafood market first, a restaurant second," Alterman says. And while the fact that sit-down sales dwarf take-out orders might suggest otherwise, his principle illuminates a fact that will help many coastal expats find nostalgia when they're far from home. It's the same lesson I learned in Fitchburg, Massachusetts: Locate a market that sells a high volume of high-quality seafood to a loyal following of neighborhood regulars, and you'll likely find a killer sandwich inside, too.