Telegram & Gazette
By Bill Cory

The Sole is a richly contemporary setting for an unrelentingly busy restaurant.

We made reservations for eight, but were advised we could probably get in quickly if we arrived before 6:30. We almost made that time, were told we’d have a half-hour to wait, and had a table just off the noisy bay in less than 10 minutes. We requested another, quieter table and were told that it would take 20 minutes, which seemed worthwhile to us.

Five minutes later we were happily seated in another smaller and much quieter dining room.

Soup Specialist surprised me by skipping the huge wine list and ordering a $6.99 raspberry cosmopolitan or “Razz-Cosmo,” which was sweet, intriguing and potent.

We found nearly all of the appetizer prices at a modest $2.99 to $7.99, including chowders, five kinds of smoked seafood, fried clams, escargot, shrimp cocktail and virtually any seafood-based treat we could imagine. Oysters on the half-shell were $10.99, steamed clams $13.99 and a chilled seafood platter was $17.99 or $30.00 with a whole chilled lobster added. Oh, yes, let’s not forget sushi: 10 varieties from $4.99 to $8.99. Eating sushi is an act of faith. It’s hard to imagine any place where sushi would be more fresh.

Stuffed mushrooms, $4.99: Under a blanket of Swiss cheese is a big portion of small mushrooms with an excellent seafood stuffing. Smoked scallops, $5.99, are the most remarkable appetizer ever to surprise us completely. They must be tasted to be believed, and the taste is well worth the trip. You may need to find a Southern guy with two first names if you want smoked meat, but there’s no need to travel beyond The Sole for superb smoked seafood. We were awfully tempted to order a few more rounds of appetizers instead of entrees. A few days later, we were still tempted.

The “Fresh Stocked Market” entrée list is for those who want to cut right to the chase: sole, bluefish, haddock, halibut, tuna, swordfish, mako shark, shrimp, salmon, trout, scallops and softshell crab, all $14.99 to $21.99 from the broiler or the mesquite grill with potato and vegetable. Nineteen specialty entrees, with salad or chowder included, are $15.99 to $21.99. Choose from such offerings as tuna steak stuffed with feta and sun-dried tomatoes; lobster, scallops and shrimp sautéed in garlic and wine with mushroom rice pilaf; scallops and shrimp Alfredo garnished with fresh steamed mussels; Dijon and horseradish bluefish; tuna with red pepper pesto; and baked crab cakes.

Salmon gets its own section of the menu with seven different preparations, each $16.99, including a seared filet with pistachio crust or baked salmon with goat cheese on a rosemary red wine glaze. Fried dinners begin at $6.99 for an 8-ounce fish & chips; there are clams, scallops, haddock and shrimp, or super jumbo shrimp at $18.99. Lobsters are $19.99 up to $56.99 for a 3½ or 4 pounder. Add $3.00 per lobster pound if you’d like it stuffed with scallops or shrimp then baked. Jumbo Alaskan king crab legs are $39.99.

“Alternative Cuisine” turned out to be two chicken breast preparations, $13.99 each, or a New York sirloin for $18.99. Four surf & turf combinations are $17.99 and $21.99.

The house salad, a selection of fine greens with your choice of a half dozen homemade dressings made a good “refresher” and an appropriate prelude to a pair of wonderful entrees. Panko crusted trout with prosciutto, $15.99, was delightful – perfectly done, delicate, boneless and flavorful with an unusual accompaniment if braised red cabbage, which worked nicely with the fine trout.

Our favorite dish was a large sea bass fillet stuffed with asparagus and topped with parmesan crumbs, $20.99. Sea bass has a subtle flavor, which the parmesan cheese enhanced. The small asparagus were a good contrast and roasted red pepper coulis surrounded the bed of mushroom pilaf with sweet perfection. Every aspect of this entrée was on the mark.

Desserts are special at The Sole, and we were happy with “the perfect flan,” $3.99 and delighted with Boston cream pie, $4.99. It’s difficult to find our old favorite Boston cream pie, and this was the best we’ve had since the Green Ridge Turkey Farm became a bookstore.

Our dinners, without tax, tip or drinks, totaled only $56.

We don’t know of a more reliable restaurant – or better seafood restaurant – that The Sole Proprietor.

Little things do matter, and The Sole gets them and the big things just right.