Seafood can be truly luxurious, yet unlike other luxurious foods like steak and pasta, it is light and generally healthy. Few experiences compare to visiting a new, highly regarded seafood restaurant in your area. But if you don't have a lot of experience dining at seafood restaurants, you may need a few tips to guide you.
1. Know where the fish came from.
If you are in a city on the coast, most of the seafood served in restaurants is likely to be locally caught. However, if you are inland, the seafood will be trucked or flown in. If the menu does not state where a particular type of seafood is from, ask. If the seafood is from more than a few hours away, you can surmise that it was frozen before being shipping to the restaurant, which means it will be of lower quality. Aim to order dishes made with seafood from as close by as possible.
2. Opt for wild-caught fish.
Some restaurants offer both wild-caught and farm-raised options, especially for fish like salmon, which are commonly farmed. You'll pay less for farm-raised seafood, but it's not as healthy or delicious. Paying a few dollars more for wild-caught fish or seafood is definitely worth it. If you're on a budget, it's better to stick with a lower-end fish and buy wild-caught than to buy the farm-raised version of a higher-end fish.
3. Keep the sides mild.
After you've chosen your seafood dish, it's time to choose your sides. In most cases, you'll want to stick with lighter, milder dishes so you don't mask the flavor of the seafood. A light pasta salad, green salad, or steamed peas, for example, are all better choices than macaroni and cheese or garlic bread.
If your dish comes with a more flavorful side dish, or if you just can't say "no" to the garlic bread, eat most of your seafood before indulging in this more flavorful side.
4. Opt for baked or sauteed over fried when it comes to fish.
Many restaurants will allow you to choose how your fish is cooked. Fried may be the classic choice, but you're missing out if you don't go with baked or sauteed fish. Baked and sauteed fish are less likely to be overcooked, and the chef has more ability to add seasoning. The only fish you should ever eat fried are cheap fish like cod and haddock.
Remember these tips the next time you go out for a seafood restaurant lunch.