By Sarah Jackson Special to The Herald
Anthony’s is a Northwest dining institution.
With more than two dozen restaurants operating in Washington, this locally owned chain has become a go-to destination for tasty seafood, served, no matter which location you visit, with charming waterfront views.
In October, Anthony’s opened its first off-water restaurant in a curiously different kind of location, Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood.
Anthony’s Seafood Grill (www.anthonys.com/restaurants/detail/anthonys-seafood-grill) now occupies the long-vacant space of the former McGrath’s Fish House across from the AMC Loews theater.
I went for lunch with a friend. We weren’t quite sure what to expect.
I was already pleased to have another restaurant option just outside the food court, along with the also new, also locally owned Blazing Onion Burger Co. and the national chain, Claim Jumper.
Newly remodeled, inside and out, Anthony’s Seafood Grill is warm, inviting and whimsically decorated with Northwest flair.
Yes, Anthony’s can be charming without a view.
We were delighted to discover colorful glass jellyfish light fixtures dangling from the ceiling in the main dining area, a 20-foot-long gas fireplace in another and, right when you step into the lobby area, a virtual river built into the floor, covered in glass and lit up bright blue.
Though TVs adorn many of the walls here, they don’t dominate too much.
My friend remarked immediately, that the place did not, as she had feared, seem like a mall kind of restaurant.
More important, I really liked the food. I always enjoy Anthony’s consistent, comfort fare, especially the salads and lunch items.
(Treat yourself to the zesty Beach Cafe prawn salad at Anthony’s Beach Cafe in Edmonds to see what I mean.) Anthony’s Seafood Grill offers many of the fish dishes you find at other Anthony’s locations, plus many more, leaning more toward casual fare with sandwiches, tacos, chowders, salads, rice bowls and appetizers.
My favorite dish on our visit was the tempura portabella mushroom appetizer ($7.95), a fun, fresh take on deep-fried shrooms.
Three large slices of portabella were thickly covered panko breadcrumbs. They were fabulous, thanks to a spicy creamy dipping sauce and thick golden brown breading that stayed in place during eating. I might have to order this dish every time I visit.
I also ordered a BLT with a cup of fire-roasted tomato basil soup ($10.95).
It was a delicious sandwich with thick, perfectly cooked bacon, crisp but not charred, fresh iceberg lettuce and a tomato slice that was red, not pink.
Pretty black grill marks covered the sourdough bread, which was chewy and crusty, but tender enough to hold the sandwich together. My soup was a sweet creamy concoction, beautifully drizzled with a zigzag of cream. Crème fraiche perhaps?
Though it tasted way too creamy for my taste, its flavors were bold and tomatoey and might be ideal for another palate.
My friend went for the Tuesday daily shopper special, a seafood risotto ($12.95) with prawns, Manila clams, Penn Cove mussels and Oregon bay shrimp.
Served in a cast iron skillet with a mixed greens salad on the side, it exceeded her expectations with fresh, flavorful shellfish and creamy rice infused with vibrant lemony goodness.
It was not, my friend pointed out, a light dish. Despite its notes of citrus, its creamy sauce was heavy, too much for a light lunch and too much for her to finish.
I gladly took the leftovers and enjoyed them at home later.
We had burnt cream for dessert, included with the daily special, and it was spot on, all crackly sugary on top, smooth and creamy inside and the perfect size to share.
Our service was attentive, well paced and warm. Any new restaurant kinks seem to have been worked out here.
Our table was wobbly, a pet peeve of mine, but let it go since we were seated in the particularly casual sunroom overlooking the mall entrance.
Next time I visit, I hope to sit by the warm fireplace or maybe in one of the cozy booths. There are a lot of options.
I say this Anthony’s — even though it’s at a shopping mall, perhaps because it is at a shopping mall — is definitely a keeper.
Anthony’s Seafood Grill
3000 184th St. SW, Suite 870, Lynnwood; 425-771-4665; www.anthonys.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Alcohol: Full bar.
Vegetarian options: Several options.