First Bites: Old Port Sea Grill

Not sure how I overlooked the fact that this was still sitting in my drafts. Wicked sorry for the delay! I will also disclose that this was a complimentary meal, courtesy of a friend with a direct connection to the restaurant.

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Scene from the Mike Nichols’ Film “Closer”

Even though I spent all my formative years in Maine, I never developed a true passion for seafood. Fish was always my least favorite meal as a child and I recall many dinners being sent to my room for pushing it off to the side of my plate. While I’m more than happy to indulge in some lobster mash at Salt Exchange or lobster guac at Zapoteca, the whole bib & shell-cracker tradition never sounded like my ideal meal. Just always seemed like a lot of work and mess (paging Howard Hughes) without much payoff. I also have yet to choose sides in the debate of lobster roll recipes (mayo vs. butter, toasted vs. not toasted, with or without greens), but it’s just not a protein I find myself craving so that research has kind of hit a wall. I’ve been working on making more of an effort to consume the staples of my home state, hoping that my taste buds have developed to some degree, but there are still a great number of underwater-dwellers that have yet to touch my palate.

Obviously I was pretty stoked for the foodie hookup through my friend, but at the same time I was unsure of how adventurous I was going to be at — with the exception of chicken and ribye  an all-seafood restaurant. I first asked my server if the two appetizers I had my eye on were large enough to be a meal on their own. She said they were fairly sizable portions, so I put my order in and held onto my menu in case additional courses were a possibility. At first it would seem like kimchi and tuna are meant to play in their own sandboxes, but the flavors actually worked REALLY well together and offered a variety of pleasing textures. I’ve had bacon-wrapped scallops before and also Boda’s bacon-wrapped dates, but the Sea Grill doesn’t make you choose and you get the best of both worlds. I thought I may have hit some grit once or twice on the impressively plump scallops, though I actually think it was crystallization on the bacon from whatever it was glazed in. I really enjoyed the range of smoky and sweet on this dish. I still had room for another course and was divided between the salmon and swordfish, but historically the former always wins me over. Holy chlorophyll, Batman! This plate had so much green going on! The seasonal ingredients and freshness really shined here. You can’t really tell from the picture, but the succotash portion did seem a little overwhelming on the plate, but flavor-wise it had some really nice heat to it.

I had not heard a ton about the Sea Grill beforehand, so even though my meal was generously on-the-house, I really didn’t have any expectations one way or the other walking in. Despite being located on Commercial Street, I was pleasantly surprised to find it lacked that tourist trap vibe that so many other seafood establishments have in that area. I avoid those like the plague. Okay, maybe I played it safe with proteins I’ve experienced before, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. I would definitely consider going back. Perhaps I’ll give the swordfish a whirl and save some room for dessert?

Crispy nori-wrapped tuna, kimchi, almonds & sesame

Crispy nori-wrapped tuna, kimchi, almonds & sesame

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Scallops with dates wrapped in bacon, red pepper, micro greens

Scallops with dates wrapped in bacon, red pepper, micro greens

 

Salmon with spring vegetable succotash and lemon-verbena cashew pesto

Salmon with spring vegetable succotash and lemon-verbena cashew pesto

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Who can be unhappy when they’re dining with the cast of Finding Nemo?

~NOMaste

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