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    Restaurant Review ~ Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill / 1054 31st. St.,.NW

    Getting Hooked!!

    For DC foodies who have eaten around town for a while, the name of the famous Sea Catch Bar & Grill in Georgetown will ring a positive bell. For about nearly 40 years, it was a go-to destination for its casual setting and great seafood options. Located on the banks of the C&O Canal with outdoor patio seating overlooking the water, it also offered a bucolic glimpse into the finer side of DC life.

    But time has passed by and this iconic setting closed with a promise that something new would open up in this historic setting. And a new restaurant has: Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill.

    photo–Timothy M. Yantz, courtesy Heather Freeman Media & PR

    Patrons who knew and loved its predecessor will appreciate that the new owners have kept the majesty and appeal of the décor. They will also applaud the new owners, Donald and Amy Carlin, who have kept the menu focus on seafood of all sorts, shaped into appealing appetizers, soups, salads, entrées, and sandwiches. Maybe the new chef may even consider a seafood-based dessert.

    And the new chef? Scotsman Darren Hendry, who as chef de cuisine, has structured lunch and dinner menus that will positively hook all patrons. Yes, some non-seafood dishes do appear, such as a burger and a hanger steak sandwich at lunch, and prime 28-day-eged rib eye, filet, and chicken dishes for dinner. Even the brunch menu intersperses seafood with pancakes, omelets, and eggs Benedict.

    photo–Timothy M. Yantz, courtesy Heather Freeman Media & PR

    But the real focus is on the variety of seafood that the Carlins have sought out. Take the lunch menu, for example. Outstanding options include one of the ceviches as a starter — try the Peruvian Ginger-Lime Grouper version — and the Seafood Gumbo.

    The gumbo could be addictive, and one of those flavor-packed bowls that includes shrimp, seafood, rice, and vegetables could become the main course. That is likely inspired by Chef Hendry, who cooked in New Orleans briefly. “It was a great experience,” he said, although he only cooked there for about four months. But he must have learned the gumbo magic.

    Spicy grouper kimchi tacos make an ideal lunch entrée, but for salad lovers, the bountiful smoked salmon Cobb salad is ample enough to be a shared entrée. Another must is the avocado Mac ‘n Cheese, a creamy rendition of this American favorite that is offered as a side but could also fill in for the entrée. Chef Hendry noted, “I was approaching this as an American menu,” he said. “But with me being from Europe and growing up with a vegetable garden, that helped inspire me.”

    The lunch menu is packed with so many “fishy” options that sorting through all the choices is a bit staggering: sandwiches include a New England lobster roll, a lump crab cake, and a ginger-glazed salmon bahn mi. The menu also lists a raw bar with clams, oysters, maki rolls, and tinned fish. But non-seafood eaters do get their all-meat choices, too, with three different meat-based sandwiches.

    photo–Timothy M. Yantz, courtesy Heather Freeman Media & PR

    Desserts (no seafood yet) include a whipped peanut butter dip, a six-layer chocolate cake, and an outstanding Key lime pie with a chocolate almond crust topped with agave coconut cream. Definitely one of a kind in this food-happy city.

    As for drinks, the menu lists several special cocktails — the Canal View Sparkler is one option — plus beers, wines, and a special after-dinner drinks selection.

    Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill / lunch, Mon.-Fri. starting at 11am; dinner, Mon.-Thu. to 11pm, to 12 midnight Fri. & Sat., to 10pm Sun.; brunch, Sat. & Sun. starting at 9:30am. (202) 470-6606.

    Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.