Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coast Seafood & Raw Bar

111 W. Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta, GA

My grandmother and I had dinner at Coast Seafood & Raw Bar on Sunday night. Coast is located right across from the St. Regis hotel in Buckhead, near the intersection of W. Paces Ferry and Peachtree Rd. Coast is in the restored house structure formerly occupied by Home restaurant. Outside is an elevated white patio with 6 tables or so, warmed on Sunday by heat lamps. Inside is a dimly lit but cute dining room with more space - bright blue accents on the walls, sculptures of fish, frameless paintings of the seashore. It might sound corny, but it was actually quite tasteful.

We started with the chilled smoked salmon dip ($8), which comes with an ample supply of lightly toasted pita chips. This stuff is addictive. Not too chunky, not too smooth, and not overly fishy. Just right.

Grandmother ordered the BBQ Jumbo Gulf Shrimp ($9), served with a buttermilk biscuit. This is an appetizer, but my grandmother rarely eats more than 8 bites of any meal nowadays, so it was pretty much the right size for her. The dish included 6 appropriately large shrimp in a heavy, dark sauce, and a decent looking biscuit. She liked it all very much.

I ordered the blue cod, blackened, with a side of spring onions and sauteed spinach. This was from the fresh catch portion of the menu, which offers 7 types of fish or shellfish served pan-roasted, grilled, blackened or "naked". At first I thought the cod was too blackened - meaning the seasoning was overkill. Then after a few bites I started to really like it, and finished it with relish. I also loved the spinach, laden with small slices of garlic and fantastic with the greens. Well worth $15.50.

One thing I liked a lot about Coast was the selection of sides that are available with the entrees in the fresh catch section of the menu. You have your choice of french fries, cheese grits, red beans and rice, cole slaw or spring onions and sauteed spinach. For a $1 upcharge, you can have green beans, Brussels sprouts, baby squash, roasted baby vidalias, mashed potatoes and mac n' cheese. I've already mentioned that I thought the spinach was excellent, but I'm also thrilled to find Brussels sprouts on the menu. I love them, and almost never get a chance to order them when dining out. The roasted baby vidalias make excellent use of a local and famous onion. Most casual/semi-casual fish restaurants would settle for only offering cole slaw, fries or other potatoes. Kudos to Coast for providing a few more interesting options.

In addition to the above, Coast also offers baskets of fried fish with french fries, specialty entrees complete with sides, sandwiches and a decent number of starters. If you can't decide what you'd like, you could always order the seafood tower, which comes with chilled lobster, shrimp, clams, oysters, crabmeat and ceviche ($35 for 2, or $19.50 for a half portion).

Service was unremarkable. Polite, but not cordial.

I was surprised by how much I liked Coast. I used to consider Atlanta, a landlocked city, to have a very limited number of good seafood options. Lately, however, I've been getting really great fish all over town (examples: Empire State South, Grace 17:20 and Miller Union). Each of the aforementioned restaurants had better fish than what I ate at Coast, but they were also notably more expensive. Given the price, I think Coast was a great value.

Verdict: A good pick for moderately priced seafood.

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