McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant is situated at the end of Inner Harbor’s Pier 5 with great waterfront views and part of a chain covering 25 states. Inside, lots of dark wood, huge stained glass hanging light fixtures and white linens on the tables provide a casual yet upscale feel. The oversized one page menu is clearly focused on seafood with two dozen starter options ($6-20), soups ($5/cup), side salads ($6-8), entrée salads ($15-18), five beef/chicken entrees ($18-34) and two dozen seafood entrées with many intriguing sounding preparations ($18-42).

Marty decided to start with fried calamari ($14), John with Portobello mushroom steak fries ($6), and our friend JT with a “wedge” salad ($8). The calamari was basic but good and arrived with both a sweet chili and cocktail sauce. John’s “fries” with a horseradish mustard sauce were “OK;” they seemed oddly uniform in size and there was no trace of the horseradish cited in the menu. Our waiter doled out spoonfuls of diced tomato, blue cheese, and walnuts on top of JT’s large iceberg lettuce wedge
and it exceeded his expectations. For the main course, Marty ordered Opakapaka (red snapper) with Udon noodles and edamame in soy broth ($25), John went with fried catfish with fried green tomatoes and creole sauce ($19), JT opted for sea scallops ($28) with sautéed spinach, a risotto “cake,” and fried leeks while Marta decided on flounder parmesan crusted with capers, lemon butter and chives ($21). All of these (particularly Marty’s dish and Marta’s flounder with a colorful speckled crust) arrived looking really appetizing but in three out of four cases, the entrees didn’t deliver what we expected from the menu descriptions. Marty’s dish was rather bland, Marta’s crusted flounder tasted like plain fried fish, and John’s catfish had only a half teaspoon of the creole sauce that led him to order it. Fortunately, JT expected no fancy seasoning with his scallops and was pleased with what he ordered.

We sampled three desserts – lemon sorbet (good but very tart and garnished with fresh lemon), key lime pie (good yet average), and cinnamon ice cream (bordering on excellent but missing a needed dash of cinnamon and dab of whipped cream on top).
John’s coffee arrived lukewarm and had to send it back; despite that, our waiter disappointingly brought a “refill” that was just as lukewarm.

While McCormick & Schmick’s is attractive with an enviable water view, it can be annoyingly noisy and tables are so tight that waiters kept brushing against us. The under-seasoned dishes didn’t offend (but didn’t excite) our taste buds and mostly fell
disappointingly short of expectations raised by the menu’s descriptions.

DETAILS: McCormick & Schmick’s (Inner Harbor); 711 Eastern Ave. 410.234.1300. Open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week 11: 30am-11pm (til midnight on Fri/Sat). Full bar, limited vegetarian options, $10 valet. McCormickAndSchmicks.com. Find more Dining Out on UrbanSpoon.com

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