The location that houses Sweeney’s Seafood Bar & Grill in Centerville has been an operating restaurant since 1959, when Antonio’s opened almost 60 years ago.
Sweeney’s launched in 1994 and it was later sold in 2012 keeping the same name and a similar approach with a seafood focus.
Chef Michael Kruse, General Manager Lisa Long, Operations Partner Holley Thompson and Managing Partner Larry Thompson all have ownership stakes, working together to run and focus the restaurant over the last five years.
Most of the sustainably raised fresh fish and seafood Sweeney’s serves is sourced locally from Foremost Seafood, Michael’s Meats and Seafood or Reinhart Distributing and GFS.
Two of the best values are the Captain’s Seafood Platter ($23), which buys three sea scallops billed as jumbo (ours were a little on the small side) and a choice of salmon, tilapia or flounder and the Fisherman’s Platter ($25) where diners select their favorite three items from clams, shrimp, tilapia, scallops, flounder, frog legs, calamari and oysters, which can be prepared to the customer’s specifications.
Both are served with fresh bread, a house salad and an additional side.
By far our favorite preparation was the broiling option that leaves a crisp outer layer protecting moist delicious meat inside.
There are dishes you would expect to see on the list of appetizer options — classic shrimp cocktail ($10), mussels ($10), crab cakes ($10) as well as welcome fresh seafood options that are harder to find on local menus, such as large Chesapeake Bay oysters served on the half shell over ice ($2.50 each) and escargot ($9).
The classic oysters Rockefeller ($12) is a rich mixture of bacon, seasoned spinach, Pernod and a creamy Asiago cheese sauce. It’s a wonderful dish that does the original — perfected more than 115 years ago in New Orleans — justice and is one of the gems on the Sweeney’s menu.
The seared ahi tuna ($13) features a very nice cut of sushi-grade tuna, sliced sashimi style and pan-seared. The amount of meat is a great value for the price and can be paired with a salad for a meal. The crab-stuffed mushrooms ($9) are another highlight.
There are 19 seafood dinner entrees featured on the standard menu, typically along with several specials. Choose between fried, grilled, sautéed or broiled preparations.
Other entree options worth mentioning include a scallop and shrimp combo ($24), pesto scallops ($27) marinated in a salad of roasted red peppers, artichokes and garbanzo beans topped with a balsamic syrup, as well as an old-school clam strip dinner ($17), three 5-ounce Canadian lobster tails cooked in the shell (market value) and frog legs ($17), which you don’t see on many menus anymore.
The English-style fish and chips is another good option for dinner, but a little pricey for what you get at $20.
There are four steak, chicken and chop options for those who shy away from the bounty of the sea, including a 6-ounce filet ($26), a 10-ounce bone-in pork rib chop and a 10-ounce New York strip ($24).
There are 10 pasta options, most featuring rich cream sauces or Cajun preparations ranging from $17-$24. The lobster raviolis with squid ink pasta ($24) tossed in a house-made Brandy Alfredo sauce is a strong offering.
UNIQUE SIDE DISHES, EXTRAS
The restaurant boasts some terrific sides, most notably their burgundy mushrooms, which coupled with the restaurant’s oyster dishes are alone a reason for a visit.
The cheddar bacon grits, sautéed garlic spinach and white truffle oil mashed potatoes are also strong options, but the burgundy mushrooms are a must.
Additional sides are $2.50 each or add a cup of New England clam chowder ($4) or lobster bisque ($5) to kick your meal off.
Seafood can be added to any entree including another lobster tail ($13), four fried shrimp ($7), 3/4-pound snow crab legs ($14) and an additional scallop ($3).
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The restaurant features a full bar, a robust wine selection and a rotating selection of 12 rotating craft beers.
The house-made Key Lime Pie is a nice way to finish the meal.
The restaurant has the feel of a throwback seafood restaurant you’d find in Florida. The four 150-gallon saltwater fish tanks are great entertainment, especially kids who can choose from eight items priced at $5.95. It’s an affordable, tasty way to introduce kids to seafood.
With so many new restaurants opening, it’s easy to forget about the established and consistent establishments that have been putting out good food for a long time. Sweeney’s is one to consider putting back on your radar if it’s fallen off.