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Phillips Seafood eatery

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Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1242
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:40 pm    Post subject: Phillips Seafood eatery Reply with quote

Phillips Seafood
Baltimore, Inner Harbor

Synopsis: The food is seriously better than the surrounding "nuke&plate" chain style eateries.
That said, there are some issues.

Rating: 4 stars out of 10; recommendation: okay if you don't mind overpaying - keep in mind, the Inner Harbor is a tourist spot.

Phillips is a Chesapeake Bay area institution - since expanded into an empire with multiple locations - pasteurized / frozen supermarket products, seasonings, sauces, etc. We've been dining there since the mid-1960's. When the "Inner Harbor" became a thing, Phillips was an anchor business; then the landlord apparently felt the lease was worth 200-500% more; Phillips relocated but remains within the walking bit of the Inner Harbor area. The new facility is very much better than the old "strip mall atmosphere" - it has two major dining areas - be sure to ask for the quiet side unless you particularly enjoy loud music making communications impossible.

Appetizers: one shrimp cocktail, one oysters Rockefeller.
Entrees: (both listed as "signature dishes...)
"Broiled Seafood Platter" - crab cake, shrimp, scallops, crab stuffed flounder & fresh catch (unspecified salmon, in this case)
"Broiled Jumbo Sea Scallops" with crab imperial, ditched the suggested zucchini for "oven roasted Brussels sprouts"

The oyster Rockefeller were some of the best I've had. Small - but (since I've pulled a few out of the Chesapeake) I could recognize them as local, very lumpy shells, fresh and perfectly prepared / seasoned. Not the canned/frozen oysters prepped on 'sterilized' shells aka the worst I've ever had = Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill (Las Vegas) - he should send some staff to Phillips to learn how this dish is done.

The Shrimp Cocktail - listed under "Raw Bar" (?) but obviously steamed & peeled. One glass of ice, four shrimp, little bowl of cocktail sauce - $13. Do the math, highly not recommended.

Dear Wife was not overly impressed with the Broiled Seafood Platter - all appeared fresh and well executed, but nothing was particularly outstanding. Her reaction: "I was disappointed."

My sea scallops were not over cooked, done "just right" - the crab imperial was superb.
"Jumbo" is a figment of somebody's imagination; four scallops, actual size closer to the diameter of a quarter.
Served in a mini-cast iron pan (super hot!) - and the scallops were "glued" to the cast iron pan.
Some understanding required . . . obviously they cannot serve the public on a "seasoned" cast iron pan - the Health Department would have crabby fits - but apparently either done in a sanitized and dry pan or started in a cold pan.
Gluing mini-sea scallops to the pan is not what I would have expected from a old line seafood kitchen.

"Roasted Brussels Sprouts" - oh dear, where to start.... absolute disaster; ate about half and left the rest of the side.
I've roasted sprouts, I've boiled sprouts. These were "baby" sprouts (should be tender, eh?) - not well prepped - a lot of stem served. I really don't think they were roasted - which brings out a sweetness / smokey flavor - they looked like "boiled in oily water" to me - opinion supported by the bleached out yucky bacon bits floating around and the definitely undercooked state.

Dear Wife had a dessert; not memorable, despite the server's hype.

Other Issues:
Service - our server was well versed in the menu, it's options and descriptions.
No bread/rolls/munchies appeared, despite the table setting of bread plates. Server did not mention / offer anything about that - however when asked promptly provided warm bread with butter. "Oversized" sour dough rolls; very good as bread goes, but not sure I'd pick sourdough for a seafood meal match.
Forgot the drink reorder.
Entrees delivered by a runner.
"Who Gets What" - apparently not noted by server; minor, but . . . really, how hard is it?

My wife requested a water refill; response: "You'll have to ask your waiter about that." Huh?

While waiting for our entrees, a runner appeared carrying tray-at-the-shoulder with entrees for another table. And promptly dumped the tray, plates, food, etc. on the floor.
okay, accidents happen.
We were finished, got bill, stuck credit card in folder for the server. A bus-runner then promptly walked by and dumped his whole tray of dirty dishes and miscellaneous food stuffs and serving ware all over our table and bench (we were in a 4 seat booth) - clunking Dear Wife on the head with a bowl. Apologized, and _left us_ to start cleaning up the mess with the various napkins, etc., available. Dear Wife scraped enough xrap off the seat to slide out and head for the Ladies Room to clean up. After she left the bus boy reappears with as wad of napkins to start the clean up.
As stated, accidents happen. But two dumped trays in less than an hour indicates a super serious lack of training and experience. Those waiters running around with five trays balanced on every appendage . . . they've got a little experience. The trainees need to use two hands, and avoid dumping the garbage on the patrons.
The busboy, server and manager apologized profusely. The manager comp'd the appetizers and dessert. Personal opinion reserved on that.
Pricing (prior to comp):
Two appetizers, two entrees, one desert, excluding alcohol - $50/person + tip
Cocktails: $9 - about average for our area.
Wine list: unremarkable.
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Michael Chu

Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1654
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Too bad the restaurant doesn't sound as good as the Oysters Rockefeller. I don't mind small since I can't handle an overwhelming amount of oysters, but I do love them fresh and delicious. Is it the type of restaurant where one can pop in for just oysters as an appetizer and then move on to another restaurant?
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Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1242
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there's a good size "bar area" - I'd bet you could order some at the bar.

also outdoor seating (seasonal...)
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