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Tuesday September 23, 2014
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Seafood Trio

 

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Seafood starters include proper crab cakes, with just enough binder to keep the meaty chunks together; steamed mussels done with finesse; wood-fired barbecued fresh oysters (interesting, but why cook 'em at all?); and raw oysters. Standard entrees include even more crab cakes, southern fried catfish, and a plank-roasted featured catch. But my most joyous fishing excursions have been among the daily specials. Some of my favorite catches there include a primo file gumbo, dark brown from its brick roux, and (deep, contented sigh) linguine with white clam sauce.

It sounds so simple--just fresh hard-shell clams, intensely briny clam juice, garlic sauteed in good olive oil, flat-leaf parsley, and a pinch of crushed red pepper--but almost nobody does it right. They may use flavorless tinned clams or steam-open fresh clams and ditch the broth; they'll chicken out on the garlic, or water the clam juice. But the full-flavored Roadhouse version soars. The big twist is the shower of fresh lemon zest, a magnificent foil for the brininess and garlic.

The Roadhouse does miss sometimes, though. The grilled fresh sardines--one of those adventuresome choices--looked perfect on the menu, but my small portion was mangled, a bit dried out, and missing big hunks of the grilled skin. I didn't want to delay my companions' meals by throwing them back, but I should have.

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