At Whit’s End: Sea Catch’s selection of seafood is no laughing matter

My mom and I have our own private joke going: We’re trying to see who can make the waiter laugh first. Tall and stoic, he takes our order totally deadpan, and looks decidedly out of place in his uniform, silhouetted by stone walls and soft, flickering candles. We tell him about our little bet and wait for the telltale twitch of his mouth or the shudder of his shoulders. By now we’re hoping for anything: a giggle, a snort, a chuckle. Even a shrug would have offered some satisfaction. But we get nothing. Disheartened, we turn back to our food, which we soon learn is no laughing matter.

A visit from my mom always means great food (read: expensive) and tonight we’ve chosen to try Sea Catch, a restaurant and raw bar nestled against the canal on M Street. Right away it’s easy to see that the place is appropriately named: a tank of live lobsters is situated in the front entrance and the menu is heavily fish-oriented, with “sea catch signature” entrées ranging from sea scallops to seafood linguini.

Inside, a fireplace looms over comfortable, closely seated tables draped with pressed, white tablecloths. The raw bar offers a view of the canal and outside tables press up against a stone wall overlooking the channel. Inside, businessmen sling their jackets over their chairs and waiters pour wine against the glimmer of the fire, giving it a very soft, novel feel for a Georgetown restaurant.

We scour the menu, which offers seared tuna over fennel and leeks in a saffron cream sauce, rainbow trout with potatoes and jumbo lump crab, lobster sold by the pound and fresh grilled fish. We order the crab and boursin-stuffed tilapia, which even I can admit was wonderful, despite being patently against any sort of meat stuffed into another kind of meat (turducken comes to mind), and the crab cakes – the crab cakes. Often at other restaurants when I’m served this entrée teeming with filler I dream about the crab cakes from Sea Catch, filled utterly with crab and topped with a crunchy cabbage slaw.

The drink menu leaves little to be desired and, for those whose mothers are not footing the bill, happy hour offers low-priced drinks and appetizers, including $1 oysters.

Dessert completes the meal, a warm Belgian chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream, and by the time we hand the bill back we’re stuffed and grinning like fools, at which even our waiter grants a smile.

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