WITH LOVELY LEMON BUTTER Seagrass’s hake entrée.
The day is coming when the baby boomers will bankrupt this country, sparing only their own nest-eggs and supplemental health insurance. People over 55 are so powerful that even today's government-hating Republicans will not touch their Medicare or Social Security. Soon the baby boomers will begin to draw down their mutual-fund holdings and 401(k)s, revealing that even the stock market's long-term growth is actually a massive demographic-driven bubble. A few of the younger generation, perhaps 1 percent, will survive the carnage and get a chance to indulge in the good-life pleasures that will be but a memory, or a rumor, or a service job, for the rest of us. The older folks will congratulate them for having inherited "the right values."
Such conversations might take place in upscale restaurants in wealthy suburbs — places like the Seagrass Bistro. This chef-owned spot in Yarmouth has had good buzz for years, and last year invested in a new space on Route 1. It offers a window on how the older, richer half (tenth?) will live, and it's worth indulging in now before the collapse puts places like this out of reach for most of us.
Suburban folk don't like inconvenience, and there is plenty of parking around the building Seagrass shares with a coffee place and an ice-cream shop. Based on the McMansions they build, rich suburbanites are most comfortable in commodious spaces. Seagrass obliges with a big box of a dining room, with a bar down one wall and a small open kitchen in back. It's remarkable how nice the space is once you enter — all dark wood, and canvas colors.
The upper crust likes to be doted upon, and the service at Seagrass is first-rate. Our waiter helped us find a nice herby malbec. But it was another thing altogether to watch the head chef saunter out to sit down with a table of septuagenarian ladies-who-dinner and chat with them about what they were in the mood to eat that night — offering tweaks to the menu. Is this how they eat in Yarmouth?! My god.
The menu at Seagrass, which changes frequently, did not need any tweaking. The four starters, two salads, and five entrées offered a thoughtful variety of ingredients in wintery flavors — even the salads offered something toasty. One starter featured three perfectly seared scallops — the smokey-char flavor made them seem grilled. They sat in a red pepper reduction that had a marmalade look, and slightly citrus taste. Even better was the pasta starter. The thick noodles were the same canvas color as the walls, and had good bite. The sauce was a duck ragu, and some of the rendered fat had been removed so it was not so rich as to obscure the flavors of the mushrooms, parsley, and red pepper.
The least successful dish was an entrée of hake "breaded" with pieces of artichoke, shrimp, and Romano cheese. The hake flirted with being underdone, and the shrimp edged a touch the other way. But the lemon butter sauce was lovely, as it mixed with the accompanying polenta cakes and green beans. An entrée of veal tenderloin was served over an approachable creamed spinach spotted with tender forest mushrooms. The meat was on the steak side for veal — still tender but with a grassy flavor that stood up to the mushroom reduction. For dessert we had a dignified carrot cake.