Some restaurants strive for innovation, others stick by the original business plan decades later with fantastic results. It’s much the same story as diners. For some meals we seek fresh ideas, new trends, like perhaps a croissant meeting a doughnut. At other times, we want a consistent and high level execution of classics.
The folks, or rather extended family behind Sea Fire Grill has been thriving for years with a formulaic plan of where seafood served as a sideshow to the main attraction – the porterhouse. Although restaurants like Ben & Jacks, Benjamin’s and Empire Steakhouse all have different ownership, they are all related through blood or marriage, and at one point, could all trace their previous employment back to House Luger.
Now that the midtown red meat market is well served, the folks behind Benjamin’s Steakhouse has branched out to seafood with the Sea Fire Grill. Red meat and seafood play a quick role reversal, but the overall formula is the same.
Warm wood tones make way for a blue aquatic theme. The dining room isn’t as grand as Benjamin’s down the street, but is understated and comfortable.
Our tasting started with Beau Soleil oysters, sweet and crisp with pink peppercorn mignonette. These perfectly shucked oysters were paired with the Etoile Brut from Domaine Chandon, a delicious Methode Champenoise sparkling wine from Napa.
Seared diver scallops were perfectly cooked, and sat atop a small bed of mashed celery root. The natural flavors of the scallops were accentuated with a small dash of caviar. Nothing ground breaking in terms of culinary innovation, but with scallops and caviar none is needed.
Roasted halibut came plated with asparagus, a rather spartan steak-like plating method. The flavors of the Chanterelle mushrooms worked brilliantly with the fish, although the meet could have been a tad more moist and tender. The pairing of pinot noir from Willamette Valley was curious at first, but the fruit-forward flavors complemented the fish very well.
If you must have steak at a seafood restaurant, not unlike the folks who order fish at a steakhouse, you’re in good hands here. The Sirloin Rossini was tender and flavorful, the result of proper aging and expertise carried over from Benjamin’s.
The Sea Fire Grill takes the steakhouse business model and successfully applies it towards seafood, with quick efficient service, well executed dishes, and a tremendous wine list. Aren’t these just the criteria that define successful midtown restaurants?
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The Sea Fire Grill
158 E 48th St
New York, NY 10017
Disclosure: The meal was complimentary, although this did not affect my opinion, nor was I required to write about the meal.