A scenic water-view locale is hardly the main draw of The Catch Seafood Tavern. Even if I couldn't get a reservation on the shaded downstairs dining porch, within view of the Sound, the cooking of executive chef Eric Miller, chef de cuisine Ahmed Elsheikh and pastry chef Lindsey Albanese would still lure me in.
It's hard to imagine a more seductive breadbasket than this: hot flaky biscuits and moist hunks of not-too-sweet cornbread.
Surprisingly light "stuffies," Rhode Island-style baked clams, are spiked with sausage, dotted with corn. A big bowl of steamers makes for pure, simple pleasure. So, too, briny cool local oysters and littleneck clams.
A classic lobster roll comes with fried wedges of freshly cut potato dusted with sea salt, along with a sprightly slaw. I'm enamored of fried oysters - crisp, greaseless and nutty-sweet.
Impeccable day-boat sea scallops, pan seared, come with an herbal lemon-basil sauce and fine basil "smashed" potatoes, plus corn on the cob. Grilled salmon glazed with honey mustard is more savory than sweet, ideally moist.
Meat at a seafood place? Yes, if it's the big, juicy, marinated skirt steak draped across my plate.
Desserts excel. I'm still thinking about the lush chocolate-banana torte, rich cheesecake, towering lemon meringue cake and sumptuous brownie sundae I sampled, each plated with freshly whipped cream.
One night, there are no biscuits - I'm told they burned. I'm crushed. An appetizer of fried calamari proves a tad rubbery. And the fried soft-shell crab in my sandwich is weighted by its heavy crust.
Despite renovations elsewhere, restrooms still need updating.
Ingredients are carefully sourced, knowingly prepared; prices are affordable. Isn't this just the neighborhood seafood place you've been fishing for?