Seafood World Market & Resautrant
Casual restaurant with a seafood-market look, serving fresh local fish prepared simply, broiled, fried or blackened; Bahamian dishes like cracked conch.
Not at Seafood World in Lighthouse Point. This funky 70-seat restaurant is a refreshing throwback to old Bahamian- and cracker-style cooking -- when the gourmet approach consisted of broiling a hunk of snapper instead of frying it.
Seafood World isn't nearly that rustic, but the menu certainly hasn't been designed to impress with sophistication. What chef Richard Oelkuct does is win you over with a wide variety of mostly simple, well-executed dishes.
A goofy name
Seafood World has only one shortcoming, really -- a goofy name. For nearly a decade, whenever someone has asked me where to get good fish in Broward, I've usually replied, ``Seafood World.'' I've always gotten a skeptical look back, as if maybe folks expect something with Disney rides.
Seafood World began life as a market and raw bar. When current owner Hugh Ganter bought it 22 years ago, he bought a stove and added a few tables and began serving food like the kind he'd enjoyed for a decade in the Bahamas. As it slowly caught on, he added rooms. There are now three. But the refrigerated display case remains in the front room, as does the market feel.
This isn't a trendy spot by any stretch. The wall decor consists of mounted tarpon, sailfish and other deep-sea denizens; various seagoing trinkets; and lots of advertising or tourist-style pictures and paintings of fish or islandy locales. Seats are simple and vinyl-covered. The placemats are fish-shaped and plastic-covered. Table baskets hold cracker packages. There's a modest selection of beers and wines, the latter especially reasonable in price.
In other words, it's nothing fancy -- just functional and friendly, words which also perfectly describe the service.
Lots of choices
For seafood lovers, the menu is diverse -- shrimp fried in beer batter ($14.95) or stir-fried in spicy sauce ($15.95); mussels marinara over linguini plenty of other crab, lobster and fish selections. There's also a daily page of specials, which lists the fresh fish available that day. In this case, it's grouper, swordfish, snapper, sea bass, salmon, dolphin, tuna and wahoo -- all, save salmon, native fare. There are different prices for each broiled or fried in fingers. Grouper, for instance, goes ($15.95) and ($14.95) respectively.
You can also choose from a variety of sauces on the side -- a teriyaki-ginger (50 cents) that goes well with blackened fish; or lobster and mushroom sauces ($2 each for side orders). Both are good but quite rich and best used sparingly. One order is generally enough for a table.
A caution: There's a chicken dish and steak, but if you don't like fish, there's little point in coming.
The appetizers set a fine tone. Blackened swordfish nuggets ($4.95) are superb. They're more flavorful than fiery, and the nibble-sized cuts of steak just melt with moistness -- a commendable feat with a fish that is easy to dry out.
Spicy fish dip
We also try a variation on the regular fish dip ($4.95). A touch of jalapeno adds a spicy edge to the smokiness ($4.95) in a serving easily enough for two. The conch fritters ($4.95) are plentiful, eight big balls and pretty good, but they don't meet the same high standard. They're crispy brown outside but a little mushy inside. The conch also is hit and miss -- one has lots, another has little -- and the batter-mix could use pizzazz.
The cracked conch ($14.95) is much better, straight-ahead Bahamian style, just pounded slices of mollusk fried in a beer batter. It's a little chewy, as you expect even with the freshest conch in Bimini, but it's authentic.
Fried conch isn't for everybody, of course. And fried fish, alas, is out of style. My taste in this betrays a Miami upbringing with access to lots of fresh fish. I will forever argue the single best thing to do with a fresh grouper filet is to dredge it in flour, dip it in egg wash, roll it in bread crumbs and slip into hot oil. Squeeze a wedge of lime across its golden brown surface and serve it with a side of my mom's cole slaw and it's perfect.
Seafood World gets darn close to that with fish (the slaw doesn't get within sight of mom's), but it also does most things very well.
With the shrimp scampi ($17.95), the linguini is a little overcooked, but sauce is pleasingly pungent with garlic and swims with whole, plump, pink shrimp. As with the swordfish bites, blackened dolphin ($15.95) balances the spice perfectly on two big pieces.
Pan-fried grouper in mushroom sauce ($16.95) is made by one thing, a great hunk of fish cooked perfectly. It's thick, flaky and moist, done to golden crispness. The brown stock mushroom sauce, which might sound more at home on beef, works well, adding an offbeat but not overpowering richness. Among mostly ho-hum side dishes, Bahamian-style peas and rice is far and away the best choice.
The desserts, which we didn't sample, are also pretty simple, but reliable. Among the selections: Key lime pie ($3.50) and a selection of cheesecakes ($3.95).
- American, Seafood
- Lunch, Dinner