We’re sitting on the spectacular, third-floor deck of the Sea Dog Brew Pub overlooking Hull’s Sunset Bay Marina, with the Boston Harbor islands and the city skyline in the distance. It’s early on a hot summer evening, and the wind is gusting so hard the heavy table menus are blowing over. As sailboat masts and their cleated lines clang against one another and gulls surf air currents above, my lobster bib is flying out behind me like Superman’s cape. Our poor waitress is struggling to get her job done, but we’re not moving inside: It’s magnificent out here.
This Sea Dog — there are three others in Maine — opened in mid-June on the third floor of the marina building at the bayside end of A Street. This restaurant, however, is not owned by the Portland-based microbrewery that owns the Maine outlets, but by four Boston-area partners who have a licensing agreement with the brewery to sell its beer and borrow its menu.
Three of the owners also own The Greatest Bar in Boston and all four of them have two dogs each. When the partners found the location and wanted to use the word Sea Dog in their new restaurant’s name, they stumbled upon the idea of licensing from the brewery whose beer they sell in Boston.
Despite its out-of-the-way location (about 2 miles from Nantasket Beach), the 75-seat pub has been crowded on several evening visits, loud with music and a lively bar scene. The simple space is spare and good-looking with heavy wood beams, a large U-shaped bar, and lots of windows with good views. If you’re looking for a fun, beachy bar with a very summery, airy vibe — this is a great new place for you.
If you’re not looking for that scene, though, the Sea Dog has something equally wonderful to offer: the very best deck I can think of on the South Shore.
The outer reach of this peninsular town juts so far into Boston Harbor that much of it lies among Boston Harbor’s 30-plus islands, and the third-floor deck of the Sea Dog is a crow’s nest of a spot to sit among them. Because the deck faces west, has limited shade, and no umbrellas (the owners say they haven’t had time to install them yet), it’s best to come before 2 p.m. for a shaded spot of lunch, or after 7, when the sun is no longer blazing. But, if it isn’t sweltering out, the deck is stellar anytime.
This place is less about the food than it is about its locale and bar — you can order a sampler of the six Sea Dog beers it has on tap ($8 for a few ounces of each). Still, I tried several dishes good enough to be able to enjoy a meal on the deck without having to order chicken tenders, burgers, fried fish, or chicken wings.
We started with the mussels appetizer ($9 lunch and dinner), which paled next to the fantastic ciabatta garlic bread that sided the dish. The mussels were good, but their watery, briny broth cried out for the garlic, butter, and wine the menu advertised.
The boiled lobster (market price, mine was $19) was as delicious as a good lobster can be and I cracked my way through it, sucking the meat out of each little feeler when all else had been devoured.
We enjoyed the fish and chips ($14 dinner, $11 lunch), too: a big hunk of white fish with a nice light batter, sided with fries and good coleslaw.
The grilled tuna Thai salad ($13 dinner and lunch) comes with a very tasty, quite spicy, thick peanut dressing that transformed the dish into something delicious. The tuna was good, mung bean sprouts bright and crisp, the spinach a bit unintentionally wilted.
On a second, solo, attempted deck visit for lunch, I ended up being the one getting fried and had to move inside. I felt perfectly comfortable eating alone at the big wooden bar.
The grilled salmon ($14 dinner and lunch) with seasonal vegetables (zucchini and summer squash) and mashed potatoes was a total winner. The fish was seasoned nicely and grilled beautifully; the veggies were perfectly cooked and delicious with garlic; the mashed potatoes as comforting a comfort food as any.
The Sea Dog doesn’t offer any desserts — except Hood ice cream cups. Maybe I’ll try one next time, if I want to linger longer on top of the world.