A slice of Montauk just landed in the heart of Clarendon with the arrival of Seamore’s, a casual seafood chain with six locations scattered across New York City.
The splashy addition to the Clarendon Crossing development opened for dinner service on Thursday, September 29 (2815 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, Va.). For its first foray outside of the Big Apple, the seven-year-old brand with a sustainability-touting mantra lets docks dictate its daily seafood selection.
“[We] sell the fish that fishermen are catching,” CEO Jay Wainwright tells Eater. “It’s really important that we’re connecting with a different supply chain in D.C. than we are in New York City.”
One debut dish for D.C. stars Virginia littleneck clams, steamed and sauteed in DC Brau’s El Hefe Speaks beer to pay homage to two local favorites in one bowl.
“This location came out of a desire to serve fish from the Chesapeake region, which is a seafood supply chain that we can tap into,” he says.
The bright and beachy newcomer resembles a hip waterfront hangout in the Hamptons, complete with fishing rods on the walls and a blue-toned bar. A neon-lit outline of its fish-faced logo leads the way to a soaring interior for 80, with operable windows spilling out to a 44-seat patio.
A common visual in each Seamore’s is the “Landing Board” — a massive blackboard with hand-painted pictures and descriptions of the fish diners can expect to land on their plate, with a red wooden spoon hanging next to the latest local catch of the day. For now, that may include Atlantic croaker, blue catfish, sheep’s head, and speckled trout.
“You might not always recognize the species of fish, but you’ll find that they are delicious when you try them,” says Wainwright.
Instead of going with the wild and farmed seafood route, Seamore’s showcases invasive local species such as snakehead and Maryland blue catfish, which has a sweet flavor profile from all the rockfish it’s eating.
The centerpiece of Seamore’s menu is its best-selling “Reel Deal” option ($30) that includes a choice of seafood — the catch of the day, blackened shrimp, Montauk scallops, or yellowfin tuna — next to seasonal vegetables (right now it’s corn and asparagus), and pick a sauce like charred scallion, chimichurri, or lemongrass aji to punch up the plate. The chosen seafood can also be served in tacos or added atop a number of salads.
The menu, executed by Truluck’s alum Laurence Cohen, also includes dishes like shrimp cocktail, tuna poke, fisherman’s stew (starring that catch of the day), red curry mussels, and a lobster roll. A selection of non-seafood dishes includes cauliflower tempura, a double-patty burger dressed with coleslaw, steak and fries, or chicken tacos, with a churro ice cream sandwich for dessert.
Oysters will showcase a breadth of flavors, from outland (seafaring) varieties to those growing inland in estuaries.
One Chesapeake Bay favorite is intentionally amiss from the menu.
“It’s a conscious decision to not include crabs this year. We don’t feel comfortable serving it while the population numbers are as low as they have been,” says Wainwright.
Straightforward cocktails like Aperol spritzes, Moscow mules, and traditional or spicy palomas join twists on classics like a prickly pear margarita and apricot Old Fashioned.
Seamore’s focus on sustainability goes past sourcing by forging friendships with nearby conservation efforts. In D.C. that includes Oyster Recovery Partnership, a nonprofit dedicated to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. Topher Bertone-Ledford relocated from NYC to take on the general manager role at the new Clarendon location. He also wants to establish Seamore’s as a hub in the local dining community.
“We always look for opportunities to transcend our seafood sustainability efforts, and contribute positive impacts to the communities we are in,” says Bertone-Ledford.
Look for fun programming like oyster-shucking classes that also teach participants about the role bivalves play in the health of the Bay and geographical flavor profiles. Participants get to keep the knife and glove to show off their new skills at home.
An incoming happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. will feature half-priced local oysters, $5 beer, $9 wines, and $9 mixed drinks. Dinner service runs Wednesdays to Sundays.
—Tierney Plumb contributed to this report