Reel Seafood Co. – Albany, NY
I only dined at the Reel Seafood Company (195 Wolf Rd, Albany, NY) one time back in 2007. It was a group lunch with co-workers. I ordered fish and chips, and the dish was poor.
I became excited to learn that ownership had changed hands and the daughter of the previous owner has taken the helm and made some much needed changes to the interior and menu. I was eager to see and taste the changes.
We made a reservation for dinner on a Friday evening at 6:30. The bar area was full with young professionals; the majority of the restaurant was unoccupied. Only tables around the periphery of the main dining area had diners, and the majority were significantly older than us.
Our waitress greeted us along with a second waitress who was in training. We placed our order, and they quickly returned with rolls and things for topping and dipping.
On the left, whipped butter. In the middle, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The other was lobster cream cheese. None were outstanding; I was hoping the lobster cream cheese would be a home run, but it lacked that little bit of salt and pepper that would have made it pop.
As my starter, I ordered the Yin Yang Scallops ($13 – Jalapeño, shallots, mango, red pepper, sesame-seared brussel leaves).
The dish consisted of two seared scallops topped with two different things. One had chopped shallot and jalapeno; the other had a chutney of mango and red pepper. The scallops were cooked nicely but were missing seasoning. The toppings helped to balance out the bites, but I thought the mango and red pepper topping was outstanding, and a nice accompaniment to the delicate scallops. I’m not totally sure how I feel about the accompaniments meandering into all of the nice crust on both sides of the scallops, though. The Brussels sprouts leaves didn’t seem seared at all, and were cold and greasy from the overwhelming sesame oil. Everything was there for this to be a hit, but the execution was short.
A few of the chef’s compositions caught my eye, but I’m fairly picky with seafood presentations. I was also distracted by the shellfish Cobb salad on the menu ($19 – Shrimp, lobsters, lump crab, bacon, avocado, tomato, blue cheese, hard boiled egg, lemon cream vinaigrette).
While not completely in line with what I’m looking for in a Cobb Salad, it sounded great to me.
The presentation was fun. There was definitely a bounty of shellfish and other toppings atop the greens.
The lobster and crab were flawless. Both had tremendous flavor and were succulent.
I became fairly frustrated with the drastically overcooked and rubbery shrimp that still had the tails on them. (Tails on shrimp may be acceptable for shrimp cocktail, but I don’t think there’s any place for them in a dish that is plated along with other items that can all be eaten with a fork.) Also, I had to ask for a salt shaker for the shrimp; they had no seasoning whatsoever.
Once the first couple of slices of hard boiled egg were eaten and the yolk became visible, it was evident that these were slightly over-boiled.
The dressing was decent and nicely applied to the greens. Eating through the salad, the lemon in the vinaigrette really enhanced the seafood. The bacon fit into the dish perfectly, where the blue cheese was a little out of place, but tasty nonetheless.
Aside from my technical observations and preferences, I had a positive experience at Reel Seafood Company. The interior of the restaurant is light and vibrant, and there are a number of other things I think look like they’re worth checking out on the menu.