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Globe South Dining Out

East Bay Grille reels in Plymouth seafood fans

July 25, 2010

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In a town that lives by fishing and tourism, East Bay Grille on Water Street in Plymouth fits right in.

It is in the building that housed McGrath’s for many years, and the layout is much the same, though more modern and airy, and the outside patio is the place to be for summer dining. The outdoor bar is an especially popular spot on warm summer eves.

The bar inside dominates one of the main dining areas, and even when fairly busy, as it was on a recent Wednesday, you’re hardly on your stool for a moment before an affable bartender is taking your drink order. The offerings include a reasonable wine list.

We met up with friends and took a booth by the large windows that front the outside dining area and gave us a great view of the harbor, gloomy and fog-shrouded on this evening. Our waitress was most gracious, never far away, always checking on us.

We started with a pair of appetizers, both terrific. The sautéed mussels ($12), with hot cherry peppers and tomatoes cooked in a sherry butter and served with grilled crostini, were an instant hit. We’ve had lots of mussels in lots of places, but this was unique, with the sauce thick and silky smooth, completely coating the mussel meat and clinging to it for the ride to the mouth, rather than slipping off the way thinner broths do, and the cherry peppers biting and hot. It was one of the best versions we’ve had.

We gave the risotto balls ($11) a shot, and it was a shot well worth taking. The crusty orbs of arborio rice are rolled with sausage, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, herbs and seasoned bread crumbs, and fried until toasty on the outside, gooey warm and moist on the inside. They’re served atop a light blanket of sweet marinara sauce, all the flavors working together harmoniously.

It was time to bring on the seafood for which Plymouth is famous, and the swordfish piccata ($26) was a great option. It comes topped with a creamy, lemon-caper butter sauce served with perfectly grilled asparagus and a gigantic portion of seasoned rice.

This was a generous portion of swordfish, fresh off the boats coming into the harbor outside, but a tad dry for my taste. Next time, I’ll have it cooked a little less.

We also had a towering Caesar salad, which costs $8 for the basic version, but we had topped with fresh sea scallops for $15. There was a goodly portion of the succulent scallops, which made it too easy to gobble them down first and return for the cold, crunchy salad topped with an excellent house-made dressing.

Another aquatic choice was the fresh halibut ($27), flaky and moist, oven roasted and topped with a roasted corn-and-lobster relish. It was served with basmati rice and confetti vegetables finished with a tomato au jus. The seriously large offering was difficult to finish.

Stepping away from the ocean for a moment, we also gave the tenderloin salad a try ($17), and were glad we did. The medallions of meat were served with vine-ripened tomatoes, Stella gorgonzola cheese, and bits of red onion, coated with a perfect balsamic dressing.

East Bay Grille’s menu is understandably top-heavy with seafood offerings, but its beef, burgers and chicken are not to be missed, either. We checked with a fellow diner we knew who raved about his chicken Marsala.

If you have the room, try the waitress-recommended wharf pie ($8), but keep in mind that one serving can be split four ways. This massive dessert features Heath Bar ice cream in an Oreo-cookie crust, drizzled with caramel and a warm chocolate sauce. And the black velvet cake ($8) has four layers of rich devil’s food cake filled with chocolate fudge, finished with a bittersweet ganache, and served with warm chocolate sauce — a delicious way to end the night.

With all the options in town, there’s a reason East Bay has been around so long, about 11 years. It’s got some of the freshest seafood you can get, attractively presented in a casual yet elegant setting where proper attire is stressed (no hats after sundown, and gentlemen, no sleeveless shirts or tank tops, if you please). And it’s fairly priced; besides the market-priced lobster, nothing was over $30.

There is entertainment Wednesday to Sunday nights, but it’s not too loud to hear yourself talk, which is a problem in some places.

The only problems you’ll have here is parking on a busy night (they mark the East Bay Grille spots with cones in the town-owned lot; if you park outside that area during daytime business hours, you have to display a paid ticket from the nearby pay station), and deciding what to order off the expansive menu.

PAUL E. KANDARIAN

East Bay Grille

173 Water St., Plymouth

508-746-9751; www.eastbaygrille.com

Open daily, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Handicapped accessible

Major credit cards accepted