August 13, 2010 at 4:17 pm , by Serina Patrick
Driving through my neighborhood a few months ago, I noticed a new restaurant had quickly taken over Figo’s old location. It would have been hard to miss, with its red awning sporting a catchy name and tagline, Goin’ Coastal….a sustainable seafood joint.
My curiousity piqued, I googled it. The original location is in Canton. Happily, I do not know exactly where that is. I’m a city chick and easily develop amnesia regarding suburbs, not to mention my direction dyslexia.
I love seafood, primarily shellfish. And the promise of super-fresh seafood fished from environmentally sound waters is certainly appealing! LC accompanied me, ready to do some serious seafood sampling.
Black and white photos of fishermen adorn the pale turquoise walls. Reddish wooden chairs with black leather seats and solid black wood tables sit upon concrete floors. The open kitchen and bar sit a few steps above the main dining room in the multi-level space. Pendant lights emit a soft glow, illuminating the blackboards with daily specials. Brown paper table-dressings add a casual flair to the fishy theme but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was a chain. Almost too clean, it felt like it was a concept being groomed for franchising.
Starting in on the specials before taking our drink order, our server was clearly nervous. Perhaps it was her first day but as the evening wore on she proved to be quite competent. Water please.
She brought out a basket of what can best be described as corn muffins. Too cakelike in texture, straight-up cornbread would have been better. I needed a drink. For a seafood joint their cocktail list was quite intriguing. I ordered the coconut lime rickey and LC tried the watermelon jalapeno margarita.
We started off with sweet potato chips with a blue cheese dip, a bowl of she crab soup and a baked oyster sampler. I don’t know what I was expecting but the chips were just like the ones you can buy in a bag in the health food section at the supermarket. I guess I was hoping they would be very thickly sliced, or perhaps spiced with cayenne or black pepper or something. On the plus side, they were not at all greasy, just nothing special.
Our cocktails, however, were special! I enjoyed my rickey but it was LC’s watermelon jalapeno margarita that stole the show. Only mildly sweet with the fruit juice and slightly tart from a dash of fresh lime, it finished with a swift kick in the pants from the jalapeno. A salted rim was icing on the cake.
My only experience with she crab soup is, again, from a can at the supermarket. Called she crab because it is made using cream and the roe from the female crab (obviously), it has a distinct, rich flavor. LC and I agreed, Goin’ Coastal’s rendition of this seafood classic did have good flavor but there was something off about the texture.
I’m not an oyster lover but if I must partake, at least I’d rather have them cooked. So we ordered the baked sampler with two Rockefeller, two crab stuffed, and two parmasean garlic. On our order of six, some were huge, some were tiny. Of the three, the crab stuffed were my favorite.
Chef and co-owner Zach Kell brought out a plate of steamed side-striped shrimp from Alaska. Especially sweet, they required no seasoning at all, not even a dip in the drawn butter was necessary.
Along with the peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, our server placed a white ceramic dish on our table with three little white dots inside. Then, from a tiny metal pitcher, she poured water onto the dots, making them expand right before our eyes. They were like freeze-dried towelettes! I was very impressed.
By this time we were on our third watermelon jalapeno margarita each. They packed some heat but clearly not much alcohol. For an entree LC chose the freshly caught swordfish with cheese grits and collards on the side. Despite having tomatoes in it, I ordered the low country boil with scallops, shrimp, crab legs, and mussels plus a side of the jalapeno corn bread pudding.
Simply grilled, I thought the swordfish looked overcooked when it came to the table, but LC loved it. His grits were fantastic. He liked the collards because they weren’t cooked to mush, but they would have benefitted from a liberal dose of vinegar.
My low country boil was good, but not stellar. Fish stews are challenging due to the varying cooking times of different shellfish. The scallops were perfectly cooked leaving the shrimp a tad tough. Crusty bread that came with it was awesome. Although submerged in a tomatoey broth , the crab legs had to be cracked by hand. Thank goodness for the magic towelettes!
The savory and spicy jalapeno corn bread pudding, baked in its own ramekin, turned out to be my favorite dish.
There are many dishes on the menu we didn’t get to taste. I was interested in the fried Creole salad but our server would not endorse it. Lobster and peekytoe crab cakes sound delicious. And I wouldn’t turn down a duo of roasted and fried shrimp served on grits with andouille sausage gravy.
A couple more watermelon jalapeno margaritas went down as we chatted, finishing it all off with a mini chocolate cake with blueberry sauce.
I wanted to love it, I was hoping it would wow me. I think they take great care in their sourcing and I appreciate that but in the end, what works in a small town might not fly smack in the middle of the trendy Virginia Highlands. After all, we are food snobs.
1021 Virginia Avenue 404-941-9117
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