Thursday, December 21, 2006

Battery Park Grill

I don't get out of town much, so I'm always thankful when a reader points me in the direction of a favorite restaurant. A few months ago, I received word of Battery Park Grill, located in Smithfield's business district. Since my husband, Dave, and I were in town checking out The Bon Vivant Market, we took our dinner plans just across the street.

Walking in beneath the festive holiday lights, we really didn't know what to expect-- "lighter fare" and "fresh seafood" were a few of the words I'd heard bandied about. Dave opened the door to a brightly lit dining room, decorated with suspended window and door frames: each of these peered into a different painted view, to nice effect. A smiling waitress hurried past, saying that we could help ourselves to a table: she'd be with us in a moment.

Settling into the back of the wood-dominant room, Dave had a bottle of wine picked out by the time the waitress returned. She disappeared through a painted saloon-style swinging door, returning almost as quickly.

I was thrilled to see that not only did the waitress have a proper wine key, she knew how to use it, too. Sadly, the wine was corked. After an apology and a few words on the benefits of screw-caps, she suggested another bottle. The Banrock Station Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon ($17) made for a nice, slightly more inexpensive option.

We'd placed our food order, so I took the opportunity to find the bathroom. Passing through that swinging door was an experience in itself! The light level lowered dramatically, and I was in a bustling, smoky bar. On the far side of the room was a very cute little dining area, slightly brighter than the rest of the room. Before I could have a closer look, one of the patrons almost walked into me. "Girl, ya need to smile, now!", he said, peering into my startled face. I smiled, murmuring something about 'just looking for the restroom', and continued on through.

The final area was a spacious billiards room. There were only two playing, so it was quiet, a little darker and a lot less smoky. The restrooms were off a small hall, where a loveseat nestled into a plethora of reading materials. However, there was no wait, and the bathroom was nice and clean.

By the time I got back to my seat, appetizers had arrived. That night's special were scallops'n'bacon (75 cents each/min. four), still piping hot. The scallops were fresh and perfectly cooked, the bacon making a fine foil for the rich meat. Dave had two, and he doesn't even particularly care for scallops!

I ordered a house salad ($2.25 with entree) with oil & vinegar. It was nice and crisp, although the cut tomatoes suffered the all-too common restaurant refrigeration-syndrome (chilling a tomato renders it flavorless). With a little green in my system, I was ready for the next round of seafood.

We both ordered the seafood combo ($15.50), a plate filled with your choice of three seafoods and two sides.

I ordered the scallops-- not quite as good without the bacon, but fresh and tasty nonetheless. I'd almost requested fried shrimp, but the waitress exhorted me to try blackened: "they don't come under a crust of spices, we use a special blackening pan". Indeed, they were different than any other 'blackened' food I've had, but didn't really resonate. A dip into a spicy cocktail sauce helped immensely. I tried the fried catfish, and lo, it was the pinnacle moment of the meal. The fillet was light, fluffy and perfectly surrounded by a golden crust.

Dave had ordered the fried flounder, which was good, but not quite as nice as the catfish. His fried oysters were rather oily, but the fried crab cake was excellent. Lots and lots of sweet crab meat were packed into a substantial cake, then fried until the crust held just enough satisfying crunch.

We sampled a fair amount of fried food, but our sides made us feel somewhat better. Sugar snap peas were bright green and sweet, while the applesauce was slightly tart and pleasingly chunky; the coleslaw was on the lighter side, but not my favorite of the trio. Dave threw caution out the window with his choice of mashed potatoes, and I was glad he did so. These were the perfect skin-on mash, with a nice balance of rich, creamy smoothness and comfort.

After all that food, there was no way that dessert was happening. But after seeing a round of sweets get delivered to the table behind us, I had to order a piece of the bread pudding with rich bourbon sauce ($3.50) to take home. Much to my dismay, it was dropped in the gravel parking lot on the way out, too top-heavy to ride the tottering tower of take-out boxes. Personally, I'm taking this as a sign to pay a return visit and rectify that mistake as soon as possible.

Battery Park Grill
201 Battery Park Road, Smithfield
Phone: 357-1747
Specialties: Seafood, lighter fare
Price range: appetizers, $3-$12.95; soups and salads, $2.50-$10.25; sides, $1.25-$2.25; sandwiches, $6.25-9.50; entrees, $8.50-$17.95; dessert, $2.95-$3.95
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 3-11 p.m.; Friday, 3 p.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m.- 12 a.m.; Sunday: 12 -10 p.m.
Alcohol: yes
Smoking: there are separate smoking and non-smoking areas
Vegetarian: yes
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Payment: cash, credit cards, checks if they know you
Noise level: conversational to noisy
Atmosphere: informal, casual, relaxed
Additional Information: nightly specials, happy hour (weeknights) 5-7, “Live Bartender Nightly”
Star rating: food 3 1/2, atmosphere 3 1/2, service 4
(out of five stars)

from The Daily Press


Blogger Chickenfried Gourmet said...

just found your blog via Matt Bites

that Banrock Station, if you like it, can be bought at Wal-Mart for 3.74

5:31 PM  

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