This is a very overlooked restaurant. That may be because of its hidden location, deep in Canal Square in the midst of Georgetown. It may be because of its jaded history and tourist-centric advertising. Or it may be because of its lack of a famous chef. But I would suggest that many of you may picture it all wrong and I would encourage anyone who seeks an alternative to Kinkade's, deserved, success but abhors the pre-fab likes of Legal Seafood, et al, to give Sea Catch a try.
First, parking in the building is free. That's not unimportant on a Friday or Saturday night.
Second, know the setup. In the very front is a long, white marble raw bar. It's more for display I think than eating. Next is a dining area with cafe-type tables that I believe is used primarily for the lunch bunch, and walks-in at dinner. Adjacent to that is a very nice wooden bar -- quiet, professionally attended, and handsome enough for the Ritz. In the back are two lovely dining rooms. What you'll find is dark hardwood floors, rosey/peach colored banquettes(sp?), perfect indirect lighting, very fine linens, crystal and silver. The first of these two rooms boasts a working fireplace.
Third, the service is stellar right off the mark. We recognized Friday that many of the waiters have been there for probably 5-7 years. They are backed up by a very able bus staff. I can be a relatively demanding guest, and not once during a 2 1/2 hour meal on Friday did I ever need to raise my head to catch a waitstaff's eye, correct an oversight, or request that things be either hurried or slowed. That included two specific cocktail requests, a wine consultation and subsequent pouring, two courses each with appropriate silver, finger bowls afterwards, coffee and a check. All in what was basically a full dining room.
Fourth, the food. While we generally stick to the basics when we go, the menu does tempt the more adventurous diner. This week it was only my wife and I. She started with a delicious Crab and Corn Chowder special, full of crab, creamy and tastey. I started with raw clams (2 choices) and oysters (8 choices), perfectly presented, chilled and superbly clean. Susan then had a 3 lb. steamed lobster (the purpose of the trip) and I had a whole grilled red snapper. Again, both were expertly prepared and offered. On previous occassions I have enjoyed their salads, cooked shellfish starters, the best seabass entree in the city, and wonderful tuna.
The chef understands the laws of seafood. First, start with the freshest raw materials possible. Second, do not overcook them. And third, create dishes that enhance, not cover up the fish.
It's not cheap. But I truly believe there is a place for the Sea Catch on everyone's restaurant short-list.