By Sharon Gittleman
Step into the dining room of Lily’s Seafood Grill & Brewery and you’ll immediately feel yourself starting to relax. Warm lighting surrounds the tables with a gentle golden glow and gives a special patina to the bright modern artwork mounted around the restaurant. A brick wall overlaid with a vintage beer ad and the enormous metal fish mobile hanging from the ceiling near the well-stocked bar add a lighthearted touch.
Fish stars at the restaurant, both on and off the menu. Schools of metallic fish are sculpted into the grillwork topping the roomy booths in the non-smoking section, while half a dozen tanks of brightly colored tropical fish are scattered throughout the large restaurant.
While the laminated nautical map tabletops add a casual air, the fresh flowers and small votive candles set in large square glass holders make the restaurant perfect for everything from a first date to an anniversary dinner.
Though our Wednesday night visit brought out a respectable crowd, you won’t have to fight to hear your partner over a noisy din – conversations were kept hushed by the sophisticated diners.
The restaurant’s daily specials offered plenty of alternatives to the regular menu, which featured a variety of selections from a steamed shellfish platter to meaty chops and steaks. Our party started with one of the specials – crab Savannah soup.
Every spoonful of the soup was filled with tender crabmeat, a perfect antidote for a snowy winter evening. The thick tomatoey bisque was seasoned with a rich mysteriously flavorful ingredient – a hint of fresh nutmeg and another gentle spice. Freshly baked rolls and sweet honey basil butter accompanied the soup.
The diners at our table shared two starters and an entre – a bowl of steamed mussels, salmon flat bread and the restaurant favorite: sesame tuna.
While the mussels were listed as an appetizer, it was more than enough for a meal, along with a bowl of soup or salad. The sweet and tender mussels were served with a light sauce of broth blended with tiny bits of English cheddar and blue cheese. While the cheeses added an unexpected zip to the dish, they didn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of the shellfish.
The appetizer-sized salmon flatbread was sliced into quarters like a pizza. However, instead of pepperoni and gloppy mozzarella, diners bit into chunks of salmon flavored with spicy capers, red onions and mild asiago cheese served on a crispy baked pita circle. The zesty flavors were unique and fresh – and ideal for sharing with your partner.
Next came our entre, a thick slice of ahi tuna red rare on the inside and with a crispy sesame crust on the outside, topped by a creamy mustard-herb sauce. Each heavenly bite blended the crunchy baked-in crust with the rich buttery flavor of the fish. The sauce was quite delicate and didn’t overpower the tuna. The fish was served on a bed of crisp spinach strips and surrounded with perfectly-cooked fresh zucchini, green beans and carrots and boiled redskins.
While the dessert menu offered plenty of temptations, including pecan pie with chocolate chips, Sanders cream puffs, cherry upside-down cake, key lime pie and a hot-fudge and ice cream-topped chocolate chip brownie, we hadn’t left room for sampling the sweets.
Dessert drinks are one of the specialties of the house, with choices ranging from a B52 – a blend of Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream and hot coffee topped by whipped cream to a Peppermint Patti – hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps.
You’ll also find fine wines and restaurant-brewed beer on the drink menu, including lagers, stouts and ales.