By Hope S. Philbrick
Alpharetta, Georgia has no coast, but you may find yourself looking out the window of the new Brine Seafood Shack for waves. Because the seafood here is so fresh it seems hard to believe it wasn’t just reeled in a few feet from the kitchen.
Brine Seafood Shack recently opened as part of Avalon’s phase two, Boulevard East. It’s the newest restaurant offering by Chef Marc Taft, owner of Marietta’s Chicken and the Egg, who also has a few other restaurants in the works (and that may explain why your mouth is watering). At Brine, Taft serves as executive chef and owner with David Connolly as chef de cuisine. (Connolly has previously worked at Two Urban Licks and Tap in Atlanta).
“I’ve spent a lot of time on the West Coast, where they really know how to make the most of a relaxed atmosphere and fresh, delicious seafood. That’s our model for Brine,” Taft said in a press release.
From lobster rolls to fish tacos, dishes on this menu are inspired by both East and West coast favorites; press materials describe the style as “Cape Cod-meets-Santa Monica.” Fittingly, you’ll find Southern favorites like peel-and-eat shrimp, crab cakes, and shrimp & grits, too.
The dining room has a casual, laid-back vibe, realizing Taft’s vision and also well-suited to the restaurant nestled amongst shops at Avalon. Light pouring in the windows illuminates the dining room and pops the turquoise, orange and white color scheme that’s both retro and the current trend. You can come here to grab a quick bite between stores or drop here after shopping all day.
Seafood is the star of this menu, but you can find chicken and beef options, too, which comes in handy if you happen to have a friend who doesn’t eat fish.
My husband and I were treated to a range of dishes. Everything we tasted, we liked.
The smoked trout dip spread on saltine crackers is savory with a just-right salty edge. The house-made hot sauce served alongside may be the true star of the dish. To guard the secret recipe, servers couldn’t tell me much about it. It’s not too hot, not too vinegary, with a just right amount of heat to sprinkle on, well, anything. This stuff should be sold by the bottle.
The just-hooked fresh catch of the day can be simply grilled or gently flavored with herb oil and lemon. The fish variety varies, so you may get grouper or flounder or whatever, but you can consistently count on the fact that it will be cooked to perfection.
Crab cakes are packed with lump crab meat, not filler like bread crumbs. Georgia shrimp & grits is a sweet interpretation of the dish with blistered tomatoes, caramelized Vidalia onions, and a light lowcountry sauce. Mac and cheese with Maine lobster is rich, creamy, decadent.
The fish tacos with avocado, slaw, Baja sauce, cilantro and lime might rank as my personal favorite dish—though I liked so much about each dish that it’s a close race. The tacos are packed with enough variety of ingredients to make them interesting with layers of flavor but not so much stuff that everything blurts out of the soft shell onto the plate. The spice level was flavorful without burn.
Bar manager Corey Phillips’ drink menu showcases fresh, Tiki-style cocktails, including a mai tai, though you can find beer and wine, too. You can get cocktails in the dining room and also up on the rooftop bar that has a retractable roof, as well as from a walk-up window for cocktails on-the-go….because at Avalon you can take drinks with you to sip as you stroll past shop windows! (Many shops won’t let you take drinks inside, and you’ll need to finish them before you get back into your car, of course!)
Arrive hungry and thirsty. With so many temptations on the menu, you’ll want to enjoy as many courses as possible.
Odds of Encountering Children: High, but it ultimately depends on when you visit. On a Sunday evening we grabbed a corner table and enjoyed zero disturbances.
Brine Seafood Shack
6165 1st St.
Alpharetta, GA 30009
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
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