Fresh fare with hearty options
By Elanor Hill
Fresh seafood is not something you think of much in the Miami Valley but tucked away in “the heart of Centerville” you might just find yourself a good catch. In business for over 25 years, Sweeney’s Seafood would be the place to dine.
You enter from the back of this restaurant and once you are in the middle, you can’t help but notice the large extension of fresh and salt water fish tanks. There are beautiful fish calmly swimming. The restaurant has all the usual boating decorations and is casual in nature.
The menu has an abundant selection of seafood items. Appetizers include Steamed Mussels, Oyster Rockefeller, Bacon Wrapped Scallops and Garlic Shrimp. My selection was the Maryland Crab Cake. As there was only one patty, I thought the price ($8.99) was a little steep but it had a nice blend of spices and was not too fishy. The Clam Chowder is another choice that will prove to be enjoyable. This creamy and thick concoction was loaded with potatoes, ham and small clam strips.
The entrée selection of the menu offers a wide variety of choices for any seafood lover. Sweeney traditions include Atlantic Salmon, Fresh Sea Scallops, Lobster Tail and Alaskan Snow Crab Legs. Prices range from $15.99- $29.99 and include warm French bread and a choice of two port-side dishes. On my particular visit, I opted for the evening special of Crab Stuffed Salmon with Shrimp Scampi Cream Sauce. This dish is the seafood lover’s delight. The Salmon was grilled nicely and very flaky. The lobster was tender and the presentation was beautiful. The cream sauce flowed over the healthy portion of Salmon and two large shrimp sat on top.
Shrimp, Oysters, Clams, Grouper and Scrod can be ordered fried by themselves or in combinations. There is a selection of Linguini served with a tossed salad and warm garlic bread. Those choices include Clam, Shrimp and Vegetables, Bacon Wrapped Scallops or my choice of Blackened Tilapia Alfredo. Portions come “not so big” for $10.99 and “Big” at $15.99. I’m sorry to say that the Blackened Tilapia was a disaster. It was so charbroiled that I had to send it back. I kept my pasta to munch on something while I waited for a new piece of fish only to find that the charbroil chunks had mixed with the pasta. When the new piece of blackened fish arrived, I would have to say it was no better prepared than the former piece. I was able to salvage a few bites but left disappointed in this dish.
On my next return, however, I was very pleased with the Cajun Jambalaya that I ordered. Although it was only a lunch portion, the serving was generous and the flavor outstanding. There were big chunks of sausage, shrimp and cubes of chicken. The tomato based spicy sauce had lots of rice, onions and celery mixed in and the spicing was perfect. I ate more than my share of the dish and had plenty to take home.
If not a seafood lover, Sweeney’s also offers a Fish Frowners section on the menu. Filet Mignon and NY Strips are offered along with Chicken Marsala and Teriyaki Chicken. Sandwiches of Grilled Chicken, Steak Burger, Beer Battered Cod or Crab Cake Sandwich can also be selected. Fresh salads are an additional option. There is a Poseidon Salad of fresh greens, bleu cheese crumbles, praline pecans, green apples, and dried cranberries all tossed in apple cider vinaigrette. The King Neptune Salad offers mesclun greens, vegetables, potatoes, egg quarters, capers and pine nuts tossed in a four-cheese vinaigrette. Both these salads and the Classic Caesar Salad can be topped with chicken, tilapia or salmon for an addition expense. The Classic Caesar with Grilled Salmon is an excellent choice. The portion is overly generous and the Salmon was cooked to perfection and as flaky as could be. The Caesar dressing was not over-powering and there was once again, enough
left to take home.
The dinner crowd is much larger than the lunch crowd, and the atmosphere is casual and family friendly. Tables and booths are scattered through the restaurant so you can enjoy a cozy conversation with your dining partners. There is a small patio along Franklin Street that doesn’t get much sun but is still a nice place to relax as the weather starts to cool.
Further, the service at Sweeney’s is OK. I have never particularly had great service here but I have heard others talk about the friendliness of the staff. I have always found its service to be slow but others will argue the servers just give you your space. There is a full bar selection offered, and I’m told the martinis are quite delicious. There is also an extensive wine list and several micro-brews that rotate on tap.
When it comes to Sweeney’s, I have mixed feelings. Nonetheless, the seafood is fresh and after 25 years, Ron Sweeney has stood the test of time. If you’re in the neighborhood, I encourage you to stop by and
decide for yourself.
Sweeney’s is located at 28 W. Franklin St., Centerville. Hours of operation are Tue-Thu 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Fri 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sat 5 to 10:30 p.m. and Sun 5 to 9 p.m. For more information, call (937) 291-3474 or visit www.HeartOfCenterville.com/Sweeneys
Reach DCP dining critic Eleanor Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org