Anthony's Seafood Grill at Alderwood mall doesn't have a water view but still scores high with its seafood presentation.
One if by land, 22 if by sea (or river or Sound): That’s the current count of Anthony’s Restaurants’ locations. They stretch from Seattle to Spokane, Bend to Bellingham.
In November, the respected, 43-year-old homegrown chain departed from a longtime strategy of building waterfront restaurants when it launched Anthony’s Seafood Grill at Alderwood mall.
It’s a classy, welcome addition to the suburban fast-casual dining scene in South Snohomish County. The interior goes nautical in a tasteful way, evoking seashore and riverbeds with sculptural elements that employ light, water, glass, wood and stone. Outlines of kelp are woven into carpets and etched onto windows. Wave patterns ripple across the walls, the upholstered booths and the wood grain of the tabletops. Designer Joey Ing’s eye-catching, blown-glass jellyfish hovering above the dining room contribute a touch of whimsy along with color and light.
The ceilings are high, the sight lines expansive. From the front door you see straight into the kitchen’s stainless-steel depths, a view you can enjoy closer up by commanding a swivel chair at the counter. To the right, there’s a bar and fire-lit lounge with TV screens placed for discreet viewing. Variously configured dining areas lay to the left; the deeper you go, the quieter it gets.
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At the table, engaging servers pour water into cobalt pint glasses, wine into stately Riedel stemware. Salt and pepper mills and Glassybaby votives sit next to tent cards promoting specials, like the Oyster Festival running through the end of this month. Black cloth napkins wrap the heavy flatware, but blue-checked paper lines the bread basket, capturing the oily, salty, herby detritus of the warm focaccia Anthony’s has steadily improved over the years.
The menu is part Homeport, part Hearthfire Grill, part Beach Cafe, but chef Joe Waldher, an Anthony’s veteran of more than a decade, includes several dishes new to the company repertoire.
Two I highly recommend are seafood macaroni and cheese, and shrimp-mango lettuce wraps. Tillamook cheddar sharpens the sauce for tubular corkscrew noodles and tiny bay shrimp topped with a carpet of toasted breadcrumbs and fresh crabmeat. The wraps make an exhilarating, interactive salad. A bowl of diced cucumber and mango, bay shrimp and peanuts freckled with cilantro form the centerpiece of a plate stacked with iceberg lettuce leaves ready for wrapping, plus more cilantro, lime, jicama to up the crunch quotient, jalapeño to boost the heat and a bold sesame-peanut sauce to pull all the flavors together.
Also new are daily changing “Shopper’s Specials” ($12.95 at lunch/$17.95 at dinner). The deal includes a small Caesar and your choice of dessert: burnt cream or Bailey’s chocolate mousse, but not, alas, the always reliable seasonal fruit cobbler. Tuesday’s feature, six roasted garlic prawns, were bright with lemon zest and served over white rice. It’s a simple preparation, nicely done.
I liked everything I ate here. Fish platters include exquisite alder-planked Alaskan chinook salmon painted with smoky, sweet red- pepper beurre blanc; and soft, luxurious Alaskan ling cod “caddy ganty,” snug under a lightly browned mantle of sour cream, finely chopped onion and dill. Both fish platters came with serviceable garlic mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus.
Cioppino brimmed with wild salmon, cod, mussels and clams, with the seafood lending vigor to a briny broth of tomato, garlic and basil. Pan-fried oysters were delicately crisped. The batter for fish and chips fried up sturdy yet tempura-light; the true cod version was exemplary, but the Asian slaw needs a separate container so the dressing doesn’t seep into the fish and fries.
Dungeness devotees will love the crab cocktail: sweet, fresh, plentiful crabmeat over crisp, cold, finely chopped cabbage, celery and jicama, with a side of sassy Louis dressing. Crab and corn chowder is another indulgence. The extravagantly rich soup is really a satiny bisque that buoys morsels of crabmeat and corn pudding.
There is more than seafood on the menu — spicy wings, chicken tacos, a vegetarian Cobb salad, for example — but there are plenty of places in the mall for that. Landlocked it may be, but seafood-loving shoppers and moviegoers should set a course for Anthony’s Seafood Grill.
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