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December/January 2009

Fresh From the Sea
Atlanta's Seafood Sensations
By Deb North

Atlanta Fish Market
The private dining area at Atlanta Fish Market.

Perhaps you’re thinking that since you didn’t relocate to a seaside city, the seafood options will be lacking. Think again. Seafood indeed has its place in landlocked Atlanta. The area is home to plenty of worldclass restaurants that serve up some of the freshest seafood creations—fresh, meaning flown in daily. The following are just some of Atlanta’s incredible restaurants guaranteed to satisfy anyone’s seafood craving.

Atlanta Fish Market

Modeled by restaurateur Pano Karatassos after the seafood restaurants found in his hometown Savannah, Atlanta Fish Market features an exterior rocking-chair porch that looks like a converted train station platform. You can’t miss the giant 65-foot copper fish that also greets you at the front entrance. The interior is rustic “warehouse” and reminiscent of circa 1900 with antique wooden doors and floors and 16-foot ceilings with exposed beams.

Favorite starters here include crispy Maine calamari with garlic aioli and marinara, and Blue Point oysters Rockefeller. Fish varieties, from Boston lemon sole to Florida black grouper to Peruvian sea bass and more can satisfy a number of flavor preferences and cooking styles: choose from brown butter, lemon and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) sauces, and preparations such as sautéed, broiled, blackened or Hong Kong-style (steamed with sherry soy broth, served with spinach and sticky rice). Huge platters of Alaskan red king crab legs are wildly popular, as are the Florida stone crabs when in season from October 15 through May 15.


AquaKnox’s seafood plateau
The look and feel at AquaKnox is very Las Vegas. This 13,000-square-foot showpiece describes its fare as “global water cuisine,” and it fancies to entertain your every sense. It’s flashy fine dining with a swanky chic interior featuring cool colors—hues of blues and greens—reflective of ocean waters. A focal point is the water-encased wine tower and state-of-the-art open kitchen for the curious.

Try the seafood cocktail trio of sweet shrimp, lobster and jumbo lump crab, or the lobster bisque with caviar and crème fraîche. For the refined palate, there is also a selection of fine caviars with traditional garnish. Clam steamers and Mediterranean mussels that are served up in big kettle bowls make you feel as if you’re in Cape Cod. The John Dory fish, something you don’t see on menus very often, is sautéed to perfection and plated with lobster succotash and sweet corn broth.

Chequers Seafood Grill

Chequers goes deep into the blue waters of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans to find nothing but the finest “global aquatic cuisine” and serves it in a modestly elegant setting decorated sparsely with ornate nautical images. There are alcove tables for privacy, open tables for groups and private rooms including the signature “dome room” that features an eye-catching stainedglass ceiling.

For starters, the famous sweet biscuits live up to their reputation. Many guests rave that the Maryland-style lump crab cakes are simply the best, especially for an inland town such as Atlanta. The tuna tartare is also recommended, with pickled cucumbers, wasabi vinaigrette and house-made sesame crackers. Entrees include the chipotle shrimp enchiladas made with sweet corn jalapeno crepes, and grilled Bay of Fundy salmon with Montrachet goat cheese, soft croutons, tomatoes, spinach and balsamic onions. Chequers also boasts a nice wine selection and 21-day prime aged steaks.


The hip bar space at Goldfish
A funky, colorful and industrial interior welcomes you into Goldfish, anchored in Atlanta’s Perimeter Mall. Interior highlights are a 600-gallon saltwater aquarium as well as a hot bar space that is a place to see and be seen. Patrons also enjoy live entertainment nightly. The restaurant serves up seafood, sushi and steaks in this comfortable yet busy setting.

Appetizers of fried blue crab fingers and tempura lobster tail with wasabi honey mustard and small plates (3 for $15) such as mussels in Thai curry sauce, fried Ipswich clams, and Old Bay peel-and-eat shrimp stand out as pacesetters for a nice wine or cocktail. Entrees include fresh catch—Atlantic salmon, tilapia, catfish, swordfish, redfish, blue cod and more—served pan-roasted, grilled, blackened, steamed or fried. Chef specialties include barbecue salmon with pepper-jack cheese grits and jicama salad, as well as parmesan-herb crusted haddock with pesto ravioli.

Legal Sea Foods

Conveniently located near the Georgia Aquarium, Legal Sea Foods is an attractive, casual 9,000-square-foot space with an oyster/lobby bar on the first floor and main “open” restaurant on the second floor. Legal Sea Foods is a Boston staple, founded 60 years ago with the idea of offering freshly shucked shellfish, state-ofthe- art wine bar and a “Top of the Catch” fish entrée flown in daily.

Legal Sea Foods
Legal Sea Foods’ trendy space
Surf-and-turf varieties include a choice of baked stuffed shrimp, grilled shrimp and scallops or Alaskan king crab legs paired with filet mignon. For starters, try the Maryland cream of crab soup. The New England lobster bake is a classic—creamy clam chowder, steamed mussels and clams, grilled chouriço, corn on the cob and steamed 1.25-lb. lobster (larger sizes available). For those not in a seafood mood, there is plenty for carnivores (like steak, chicken) and vegetarians (the tortilla, apple and goat cheese salad). There is even a gluten-free menu.


You will find a sense of place and time at Oceanaire, which resembles a sleek 1930s ocean liner. Classic cherry wood paneling and red leather booths are welcoming, and the feel is more classic steakhouse than modern fish house. First thing you should do is visit their Web site and click on “School of Fish” for a quick education (region, texture, taste) on various species they may serve on a given day.

The menu is based entirely on market availability; seafood is flown in daily from around the world. The raw oyster bar provides samplings of the finest varieties, impressively categorized by East and West coast. Entrees are prepared with simplicity to bring out the natural flavors of the sea and the chef’s commitment to seasonal and regional inspirations. You will find hardto- get delicacies such as true whole Dover (England) sole or Sea of Cortez bluefin tuna. “Meatier” favorites include dayboat Alaskan halibut T-bone and “black and bleu” blue marlin steak.


Atlanta Fish Market—Buckhead
265 Pharr Rd. N.E.

3280 Peachtree Rd. N.E.

Chequers Seafood Grill—Dunwoody
236 Perimeter Center Pkwy. N.E.

4400 Ashford Dunwoody Rd.

Legal Sea Foods—Downtown Atlanta
275 Baker Street N.W.

Oceanaire—Midtown Atlanta
1100 Peachtree St.

Octane Coffee Bar & Lounge
Scana Energy

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