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Seamore’s Sustainable Restaurant Opens in Arlington

Seamore’s Sustainable Seafood is set to open in Arlington (pictured: “real” dishes with grilled fish and seasonal sides). Photo by LeadingDC

Diners won’t find crab on Seamore’s Sustainable Seafood’s opening menu; the eatery eschews the tradition of out-of-town restaurants as a local nod to the menu (see also: semi smoke, mumbo sauce). The coastal spot in Arlington will open for dinner Thursday, Sept. 29. Seamore’s is the first outside of New York for the five-restaurant collective, which is centered in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Why no crabs? It’s not about the higher-than-average prices for Chesapeake food. While the restaurant will source a variety of fish and seafood from the bay, as well as the East Coast and further afield across the gulf, co-owners Jay Wainwright and Topher Bertone-Ledford have made their mission around aquatic sustainability.

“We only sell fish that have stable or growing populations,” says Wainwright, referring to both wild and sustainably farmed seafood. Crab may be on the menu, but given recent reports of population declines, the crustacean didn’t make the cut (same goes for Chesapeake fish). The Department of Natural Resources has set new crayfish catch limits this year, but there are no current limits from October 1st through November 30th.

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Diners can pick up fish and customize the preparations from the “daily landing” menu.

On the often-changing “daily landings” menu, diners can find Atlantic croaker, red drum, bluefish, porgy, dogfish, sheepshead, redfish, Chesapeake oysters and Virginia clams. Seamore’s are also sources of invasive species, such as the snakehead—a threat to the Potomac River—and the Chesapeake’s threat, the bluefish.

“You may not always know the species of fish, but when they’re delicious, you’ll keep coming back,” says Wainwright. The team only works with two seafood vendors—DC-based ProFish and JJ in New York—to help with quality and tracking. The restaurant also looks to the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, a sustainable seafood advisory list, for guidance. That said, Wainwright admits: “It’s complicated—’sustainable’ is like the word ‘gourmet’ in the ’80s. It is a problematic word without a solid definition. We like to develop a repository of trust and we’re happy if people want to scratch the surface.’

Fish Tacos: Seamore’s specialty, grilled or fried.

Helping the Cause: A restaurant that feels more like a Montauk hangout than a lesson in ocean conservation. Wainwright has been in the business since college, co-founding the fast-casual chain Cosí with his brother in 1993. He also helped grow Le Pain Quotidien’s US presence as its chief development officer. Although Seamore’s full service, he says “people talk about how they want to eat today. The ethos is casual, but it gives people something to bite into.’

Skate with seasonal sides.

The Clarendon location will offer the same menus as New York, including shrimp or fish tacos – fried or crispy – lobster rolls, seafood or beef burgers, steamed mussels and fish fries using bluefish. Chef Laurence Cohen (formerly of Truluck) will also offer a variety of fish preparations: grilled daily and core catches such as steelhead salmon or Montauk scallops with cauliflower puree, seasonal vegetables and a choice of sauces such as red curry or chimichurri. . The kitchen also offers a “guppies” (children’s) menu with fish sticks and cheese – lobster optional – for all ages.

Seamore’s Sustainable Seafood. 2815 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her hometown of DC. Before joining Washingtonian in 2010, he attended the French Culinary Institute in New York and the MFA program at Columbia University, and held culinary and writing positions in NYC and St. John in the US Virgin Islands.