Saltwater Grill, Orleans - very good!
- BobB Aug 17, 2009 10:10 AM
Tried this place a couple of nights ago on the recommendation of a local, and was impressed enough to come back with more friends last night as well. The menu is pretty varied - seafood (of course), but also some Italian (or rather, Italianoid - to be explained below) offerings, including a wide selection of ingredients for choose-your-own-toppings individual sized pizzas, both white and red, as well as some variations on basic meat-and-potatoes.
The most outstanding item we had was a "tuna martini" - tuna tartare served in a martini glass. It was made with a substantial amount of very good sushi-grade tuna, mixed with diced mango in a nicely strong wasabi dressing, topped with green tobiko (aka flying fish roe - and I'd never seen green tobiko before, I'm used to it being orange, but this was almost the color of wasabi paste, which at first I thought it was). Seriously delicious, we got it both nights and shared it 'round the table!
An iceberg wedge salad was classically perfect, with lots of blue cheese dressing loaded with chunks of good cheese, topped with plenty of crispy crumbled bacon.
Over the course of the two nights we sampled several fish dishes - baked haddock was pretty basic but fresh and good. One night they had a special of blackened bass, which my wife loved, the next night the she had the bass again, in a "three-onion crust," also delicious.
I had their crispy baby back ribs, which were supposedly done with a dry rub. The texture was great but they were practically flavorless until I topped them with the sweet barbecue sauce that was served on the side. The ribs came with excellent french fries as well as decent green beans.
The next night I tried one of the "Italian" dishes, veal saltimbocca. The veal was well prepared and crisp, topped with a little prosciutto and lots of provolone, but no perceptible sage (usually a key element of a saltimbocca). It was presented on a bed of wilted spinach, rice and mushrooms, cooked in a somewhat sweetish sauce. The weird part was that the whole plate was drizzled with what I can only describe as teriyaki sauce - sweet and brown. The combination actually worked, but classic Italian it ain't.
Portions are substantial, so we had no room for dessert. Entree prices range from about $16 - $24 for a plated meal, less for sandwiches and pizza (although you could manage to put together a pretty expensive pizza if you went crazy with lots of toppings). Apps were in the $6 - $14 range. There's a modest wine list with the most expensive bottle being a $35 Chateau Ste. Michelle merlot.
All in all, a good value and enjoyable food.
One last tip - the place is on the ground floor of a large old house, with a number of different dining rooms (the owners live upstaris - and if I'm not mistaken they're the people who used to own The Binnacle). You want to get seated in the front room if possible, it's basically a large glassed in porch with a partial view of the harbor. The other rooms, while nicely appointed, are a bit stuffy and have no views.
That was my feeling - I wouldn't give it nearly as high a rating if it were in Boston, but in that area it's a welcome change of pace.
I should point out that the tuna martini was a special (though it was on the specials menu both nights we were there), so if I've tantalized you with that, call first to be sure they're offering it.