It would be easy to miss Lake Edge Seafood Company, tucked away in a corner of the Lake Edge Shopping Center on Monona Drive.
But if you enjoy fish and other fare from the water, you’d do well to keep an eye out for this locally owned combination restaurant/retail seafood store.
The business opened in December 2017 and has gained a strong following for its consistently good food served in a friendly, casual setting.
Lake Edge Seafood operates in a large, airy room that is handsomely decorated in a nautical theme (heavy rope, mirrored portholes, painted mermaids and sea creatures). In one area, fish and other seafood sold to-go is displayed in large glass cases.
The spacious room has big, comfortable tables and a wide aisle up the center where customers line up to place orders at a front counter. Next to and behind the cash register are easy-to-read menu boards and quirky sayings.
Some friends and I visited on a slow Wednesday night, but I’m told the room fills up for dinner Thursday through Saturday, along with serving lunch.
I’ve never liked the order-at-the counter set-up because it’s unclear—to me, anyway—whether you’re supposed to order first and then find a place to sit or vice-versa.
Regardless, once you get past that dilemma, you’re in for some tasty seafood. But it comes at a price. The least expensive sandwiches are $13, with a choice of one side, or you can get three seafood tacos for $16 (which is getting beyond my price range for lunch). Even a cup of the kitchen’s delicious soup (smoked salmon bisque, New England clam chowder and Manhattan seafood chowder) and one of its impressive salads is going to run close to $15.
I’ve heard people complain about the restaurant’s prices, but not about the quality of its fare.
Lake Edge Seafood offers terrific starters including bacon-wrapped scallops (three for $17.95), marinated grilled shrimp on a skewer with a small salad ($12.95), and fried calamari ($11.95), among others.
Its seafood cakes (two for $13.95) are mostly crabmeat with bits of salmon, grouper, yellow-fin tuna or swordfish. They are definitely meaty, without much filler, and come crisply seared and topped with a zesty Cajun remoulade.
The restaurant also has four salads to offer, priced from $8.95 to $10.95: Caesar, Caribbean Cobb, Mediterranean roasted beet and a BLT chop salad.
A group of “hand-helds” includes seafood tacos, a lobster roll, a poached salmon salad BLT, a po’ boy with a choice of seafood, the codwich and an Angus pretzel burger.
Dinners are served with a choice of two sides and include lobster, wild-caught cod, salmon, swordfish and three large scallops. A fish fry can be ordered any day and offers tempura beer-battered cod ($13.80), hand-breaded fried walleye ($18.80), jumbo shrimp ($16.95) and a combo platter of cod, walleye and perch.
The cod is tender and flaky, and it is certainly some of the best I’ve come across. We ordered fries and a half Caesar salad as sides and were pleased with both—particularly the generously portioned salad.
The walleye was a deep-fried golden brown, and it was crispy and delicious. We also liked the side orders: mango slaw and onion rings.
What else is good? The lobster roll ($19.95) and the swordfish ($19.80). I’ve never been a fan of the latter, but this one was a good catch—tender, juicy and thick as a steak. The lobster roll comes on a soft bun with ample chunks of meat, mayonnaise, celery and scallions.
The restaurant offers several types of wine by the bottle (each priced at $22) or glass, along with various brands of craft beer in bottles.
After a fine first meal at Lake Edge Seafood, my friends and I agreed we’ll return to check out other things on the menu. Apart from the counter-service issue, we felt satisfied with everything including the slightly high prices.
All in all, it’s a pretty good find on the city’s east side.