Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - December 21, 2012

Third time's a charm

Now a three-restaurant local chain, the expanding Scott's Seafood keeps getting better and better

by Dale F. Bentson

Good things come in threes. There are now three Scott's Seafood restaurants in the area, in Palo Alto, San Jose and Mountain View. Three brothers, German, Alex and Raymon Nava, are the head chefs at each of the restaurants. This is my third time reviewing a Scott's restaurant

and each time the experience has been better.

Formerly the Cantankerous Fish, the Castro Street restaurant segued to Scott's after a facelift earlier this year. The open floor plan is bright and contemporary with a dark tile floor, comfortable tables and chairs, and a banquette that separates the bar area from the dining room.

There is patio dining, weather permitting, and service, on each of my visits, was top-notch. Marc Buhagiar is general manager.

For starters, the Dungeness crab cakes ($15) tasted of fresh crab and not fillers. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, two thick cakes had been artfully arranged on a square plate astride a portion of house-made coleslaw topped with squiggles of remoulade sauce.

The crab cakes served as my litmus test. Crab is in season and if the restaurant wasn't using fresh, local crab, I would have likely dismissed Scott's as nothing more than another growing chain. It passed with flying colors.

The mound of fried calamari ($9) was also fresh, tender and perfectly deep-fried. This dish was accompanied by a perky lemon-butter sauce and a cocktail sauce that was fine but would have been livelier with a spoonful of horseradish.

The requisite clam chowder (cup $4, bowl $6), New England style, was thick with cream and loaded with clams. It was what I expected and I wasn't disappointed.

Main courses equaled starters. The barely seared sesame-crusted ahi tuna ($25) was delicious. Three large wedges of sashimi-grade ahi were firm and odorless, a luxury in the mouth. Scallions, ginger rice and baby bok choy completed the dish, which was dappled with a barely sweet soy glaze.

The ample portion of chive-crusted rainbow trout ($21) came with spinach, mashed potatoes, mushrooms and Dungeness crab under a sheer caper-butter sauce. Again, the fish was fresh-tasting and clean in the mouth, and didn't linger on the palate.

My only nitpick was with the prawns over wild mushroom ravioli ($21). The ravioli were perfectly cooked with a hint of earthiness, and the tomato concasse (peeled, seeded and chopped tomato) was a great addition. The lobster sauce and thyme added richness and color to the dish. The prawns, however, were slightly overcooked, which made them too chewy. It's difficult to get them just right, and these were a scoch off. Also, the out-of-season asparagus added some crunch but little more.

Desserts, excepting ice cream, were all house-made and worth saving room for. The Classic Scott's Raspberry Jack ($8) was triple sec-infused raspberry sauce with ice cream and whipped cream served in an oversized cocktail glass.

The rich New York-style pumpkin cheesecake ($8) had an Oreo-and-graham cracker crust. Generous portion. Happily, the chocolate sauce was dribbled beneath and on one side of the cheesecake and not drowning it. The dollop of whipped cream was also on the side. Perfect presentation. The key lime pie ($8) was creamy and slightly puckery. Came with a spoonful of delicious poached berries that might have been even better than the pie.

The wine list paired well with the menu. Prices were okay, I suppose, given that wine-by-the-glass prices are out of control everywhere. Better bet is buying a full bottle and taking what you don't drink home. A bar bites menu is available during daily happy hour, featuring lamb, pork and salmon sliders and other options.

Scott's has upped the ante on Castro Street with well-prepared food, good libations, adept service and an appealing decor. If Scott's is planning additional locations, well, that might depend on the availability of more Nava brothers to run the kitchens.

Scott's Seafood

420 Castro St., Mountain View

650-966-8124

scottsseafoodmv.com

Hours: Weekdays 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 4:30-10 p.m.

Reservations: yes

Credit cards: yes

Parking: street

Alcohol: full bar

Corkage: $15

Children: yes

Catering: yes

Takeout: yes

Outdoor dining: yes

Private parties: yes

Noise level: low

Bathroom cleanliness: excellent

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