Waterfront eatery makes solid seafood with an occasional twist

I hadn’t been to Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room in a while, but felt like eating some seafood and was up to go back. I dragged my wife and our friend to the Commercial St. restaurant and we went for a weekend dinner and a cocktail. I don’t go there exceptionally often, but I have been a handful of times and have noticed that the menu seems to be different every time I visit. The menu was new to me again on this stop.

Boone’s has a relatively solid mix of traditional seafood favorites along with some slightly more inventive and up-to-date items. They always seem to work in a couple Asian style dishes too. Whenever I go, my focus turns first to their fried seafood and then to the “chalkboard fish” selections which are the daily a la carte offerings served either wood grilled or pan seared.

Before we got to the food, we placed some drink orders. I went with the Old Port Fashioned – Maker’s Mark, wild flower honey, black walnut bitters, muddled orange and cherry. My wife ordered a Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc and our friend a Vodka Lemonade. With those in, we discussed the food options, considering a number of different possibilities.

When the drinks came out, we had made our food selections. I went with a starter of the Kung Pao Oysters – shucked oysters, wok fried peanuts, scallion, thai chiles, sriracha aioli. For my entree, I chose the a la carte Scallops, wood grilled with firecracker sauce, and added a baked potato and cole slaw. My wife ordered the Onion Rings with housemade gochujang ketchup and the Caesar Salad with salmon. Our friend started with a special of Tuna Poke – tossed in soy, sesame, sriracha, ginger – and then got the Mixed Greens – local greens, carrots, radishes, celery, champagne vinaigrette – with scallops.

Our drinks came out and I was pleased with their take on an Old Fashioned. I didn’t feel there was a major difference between that one and the standard version, but it was indeed good. We soon got the apps and they were all relatively large portions which I liked. My oysters were heavily coated in sauce and my wife’s rings were right crisp.

My first oyster revealed a crunchy crumb shell with lots of flavor and some heat from the sauces. The peanuts added even more texture. My wife’s onion rings had a similar consistency and a little spice from the ketchup too. I gobbled my app without slowing down except to grab a couple more rings, but it wasn’t long before it was all gone. Different than anything I’d had previously, the oysters left me happy and ready for more.

With appetizers done, our mains came out soon after. None of us had ordered anything too far out of the box. My scallops were covered in the sauce and the potato came with sour cream and butter on the side. It was the reverse of what I expected, assuming the potato would have the condiments on top and the scallops would have them on the side. Nonetheless, I was okay with the way they were.

The first bite of scallop was surprising. The firecracker sauce was too flavorful and overpowered it. The sweetness was very intense. I scraped off most of the sauce from the rest of my little mollusks which turned out to be a perfect solution. Just a tiny bit of the sauce added a nice flavor, but still allowed the seafood to wallow in its own natural perfection.

A couple scallops went down and I worked on the rest of the plate. The potato and cole slaw turned out to be pretty good. The tater was perfectly baked and the slaw was something I expect everyone would like. It was a standard – relatively mild with no significant vinegar flavor or unusual additions – and particularly fresh. It was a nice complement to my other food.

We all finished what we had, or at least most of it, and decided against dessert because we were full. Our tab came to about $155 prior to tip. I suppose it seemed a little pricey, but it was a good meal and I always enjoy the waterfront atmosphere they provide, even if it was too cold to open the restaurant to the outside. My one wish for Boone’s is still that they had fries scallops on the menu. They have them in meals like the Fried Seafood Platter and the Fried Scallop BLT, but they aren’t for order on their own.

Despite my one criticism of their menu, I always enjoy Boone’s. I’ve tried a number of different items there and have never been disappointed. They serve solid food, good drinks, and if you go between 4 and 6, you’ll be able to take advantage of some pretty decent happy hour specials. I’ll be keeping them on my list of restaurants to visit, especially in the warmer months when I can sit outside and eat close to the water.

Stay hungry.

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Peter Blanchette

About Peter Blanchette

Peter Peter Portland Eater grew up in Lewiston, Maine and graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in English. After college, he left the state to work in Massachusetts, but the allure of a more comfortable life in his home state brought him back after eight years. Upon his return and after meeting his now wife – Mrs. Portlandeater, he slowly integrated himself into the Portland food scene by trying as many restaurants as he could afford. That and a desire to write for others again led him to start Peterpeterportlandeater.com where he reviews restaurants and blogs about whatever Portland/Maine food topics he finds interesting.