We were planning on going to Floating Rock for the first time based on tips from fellow Boston Chows, but it turns out the Floating Rock is closed on Tuesdays. A quick call confirmed that By The Sea is open on Tuesdays (and closed Wednesdays). Here's the report:
Our server was incredibly friendly but seemed a little out of sorts. She said they had only been open for two weeks. It definitely seemed like it. They only had enough menus for one table at a time, no take out menus for my collection (darn!), the plates still had price tags on the bottom, and none of the four varieties of fried spring rolls were available. We ordered another shrimp dumpling (?) appetizer based on our server's recommendation, but it never appeared (either on the table or the bill).
Green Papaya Salad w/ Spicy - Our server said she made this herself. A base of crunchy slivers of green papaya was augmented with sweet slices of red bell pepper, a sweetish/smoky fish sauce dressing and chewy dried shrimp. Topped off with 1" long pieces of a green herb we could not identify, but it tasted of bitterish cilantro. The menu also listed "Green Papaya Salad". I'm not sure what we gained by ordering "w/ Spicy", but it wasn't heat. I think they may have toned it down based on our obvious non-asian-ness. Very tasty, but next time we may tell them we can take the heat.
Shrimp w/ Mixed Vegetables - A solid stir fry of medium shrimp, napa cabbage, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, fish cake slices and crab stick. Brown sauce. Nothing exceptional, but it kept our veggie intake level up.
Spicy Fish Soup - This was my winner for the night. A murky, rich brown broth hiding big chunks of mackerel(?) on the bone and big chunks of celery. It was served with a small dish of salty fish sauce with bits of red and green chiles (finally some heat!). Our server told us that the sauce was for the fish, but not for the soup (huh?). We did as we were told and were treated to tender, salty/hot fish with a rich miso-ish broth. Yum!
Stir Fried Beef with Lemongrass and Chiles - Slices of stir-fried flank steak with a paste of lemongrass and galangal(?). Included big chunks of green jalapenos so you could adjust your own heat level. Fragrant.
Tea and rice were refilled quickly. We received a most excellent sliced orange (tis the season) as a closer with a beautiful lime peel rose. Bill totaled $45 including three drinks.
Our server told us they have Asian desserts on the weekends. We're planning on going back!
By the Sea (aka Bay of the Sea according to telephone information)
107 Shirley Ave