At the foot of State St. on Dobbins Landing is Smugglers Wharf. This restaurant is one of the few remaining options on the Erie Bayfront for having drinks and dining while enjoying a beautiful water view. Even though it was busy for a Monday, Amanda and I were able to sit outside on their summer-only patio and enjoy the nice weather. The patio allows diners to appreciate being just a stone’s throw away from the water, however on this visit, between the massive dust clouds coming from the construction up the road and the extremely noisy woman using her cell phone on speaker at the table next to us, eating inside with a view through the picture windows might have been a better option. Our server, Jessy Lynne, brought us drinks in some safe-for-outdoors plastic cups, told us about the catch-of-the-day marlin fillet, and left us to our menus. After a few minutes, Amanda decided on broiled sea scallops with a side salad and tomato basil rice, and I opted for the featured marlin fillet with a side of portabella mushrooms and stone ground mustard potato salad.
Amanda’s salad came out first. It was a wedge of Iceberg lettuce with shredded carrots, two slices of cucumber, a slice of tomato, and a scattering of croutons. The dressing for the salad, a sun dried tomato vinaigrette, was much thicker than a standard vinaigrette, but had good flavor.
After Amanda finished her salad, our entrees were served. Eight scallops filled Amanda’s plate. They were broiled in a combination of garlic butter, lemon, and white wine and were topped with seasoned breadcrumbs. A few of the scallops contained some grit which was a little off-putting, but didn’t ruin the entire dish. The wine used might have also been slightly old as the scallops had a very odd aftertaste. The scallops were cooked very well, but for $20, they could have been much improved with fresher ingredients. The tomato basil rice she’d ordered as her other side was a mix of wild and long grain rice served only slightly above room temperature. The rice was on the bland side as far as seasoning was concerned and had little taste of tomato or basil.
Marlin is a fish that I have never had before so I was looking forward to trying it. I had to decide between a blackened, baked, or grilled preparation for my fish and with the summer season just beginning, I chose to have it grilled. I wasn’t asked what temperature I would like the fish cooked to, so I assumed it was a fish that is simply cooked until it’s done. When it came to the table, the fillet had beautiful color on the outside from the seasoning and the grill, but it was severely overcooked. The flavors were delicious, but the fish was so dry, I had to drink water after each bite to get it down. One small pin bone was easily overlooked, but the dry fish was not. Again, for a $20 dinner, I expected a lot better quality. The two sides I ordered were the best part of my meal. The potato salad contained a good amount of mustard, (if you don’t really like stone ground mustard, skip this dish), as well as horseradish, which provided a surprising and welcome kick at the end of each forkful. The potatoes were cooked perfectly and there was a good balance of other ingredients and seasonings. The mushrooms were sliced, cooked, and very simply seasoned with garlic. They were really delicious.
The outdoor dining space really is a fantastic way to experience the bayfront, but the food prices are obviously covering the atmosphere more than the food quality. Smugglers Wharf is a great place to have a drink on the patio while enjoying breathtaking Bayfront sunsets, but I’d recommend heading elsewhere for dinner. Thank you to Jessy Lynne for the timely, friendly service. The phone number for the restaurant is 814.459.4273. Their hours of operation are 11:30 to 10pm during the week, 11:30 to 11pm on Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 – 9pm on Sunday. They have limited hours in the winter and the patio is open in the summer only.
Until next time,
Andrew — Beard vs. Food