The kids and I were far from ready for summer to come to a close. So when the opportunity came for us to squeeze in one more dinner al fresco, we were all about it. (The sunset views were just an added bonus!) Two of my children have September birthdays. Because you don’t always know what the September weather will bring, we decided to take advantage of a beautiful fall afternoon and headed to celebrate the birthdays on the river. We hopped in the car and made the short jaunt downtown to The Docks.
Bringing the east coast to the Midwest
The Real Seafood Company is part of Main Street Ventures (MSV) which began in Ann Arbor and now boasts 20 restaurants; four of which are Real Seafood restaurants located in three states. Their mission is simple: “To consistently exceed guest expectations by providing memorable dining experiences in creative and distinctive restaurants.”
General Manager Kelly Becker who has been with MSV for 22 years said the restaurants are not a chain. “They may share the same name…but all are independent and have their own identity.” At Real Seafood they say “Quite simply, seafood as it should be.” Shipments from Boston every other day ensures that only the freshest seafood is served. Before I lose all of the “non-seafood-loving” readers, rest assured you will find something delectable on the menu should shells and fins not be at the top of your list.
Feast for the eyes, too!
Without a doubt, Real Seafood has a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere. Though the décor and the food are a bit upscale from your average restaurant, it still feels comfortable, not stuffy and pretentious. You’ll feel right at home in your Sunday best, or your shorts and topsiders, if you stop in by boat. The unique lighting, artwork, and the grandiose lobster on the wall will give the children as well as adults plenty of eye candy.
If you’re fortunate enough to dine when the weather’s nice, the patio offers wonderful views of the Maumee River and overlooks downtown. Views are FREE! Should the weather not be in your favor, the window view seats along the wall still offer fabulous views or maybe you would prefer to cozy up by the fireplace? One thing is for sure; your children will be stimulated by the environment, which will hopefully keep them happy campers while you dine.
Come celebrate with Real Seafood!
Your younger set will enjoy choosing off the extensive kids’ menu. They offer popcorn shrimp, cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, linguine with red sauce, or grilled chicken. Entrees include rice or fries, a beverage of their choice including milk, and sides such as fruit or veggies and dip. Kid meals begin at $5.95, a bargain considering the caliber of restaurant we were dining in that evening.
My daughter and I enjoyed the gazpacho and clam chowder for starters. I tempted my palate with the crab and shrimp stuffed salmon with grilled asparagus. It was a wonderful choice since I couldn’t decide which seafood I was craving most that evening. I got it all! The fettucine, served with a rich cream sauce and an abundant amount of shrimp, got ahold of my older two hook, line, and sinker. No doggy bag needed!
At Real Seafood they believe that birthdays are special days, and the meal, memorable. They offer a unique birthday special with a meal discount on the day of your birthday. Details can be found online, but know you must present a valid ID, or birth certificate for the younger set. As Ms. Becker pointed out, you may not remember the things you did on the days around your birthday, but you will always remember the day; so they think it should be memorable. Maybe I need to return for my birthday and try the crab legs!
The Short Course
To avoid wait: Reservations recommended for large crowds and weekends
Bathroom amenities: Changing stations in men’s and women’s restrooms
Got milk? Yes
Kids’ menu? Yes
Allergy info: Guests need to notify their server who then notifies the front house manager and the head chef. Recipes are reviewed and they are very careful about no cross contamination. Gluten free and whole wheat pasta is available.
Bottom Line: Real Seafood offers some of the best and freshest seafood you can find in T-Town. Though the décor and food are a bit upscale, the attentive service and atmosphere still lend itself to family friendliness. Your children will enjoy the various things to look at all around them and the ample menu choices will be sure to fill their little bellies. If you’re worried you might be missing the live music in the bar (available Thursday through Sunday) – don’t! They pipe the music throughout the restaurant for all diners to enjoy.
Karen Zickes is a mom of three active children and
freelance writer who resides in Holland, OH.
She can be reached in c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.