McCormick & Schmick’s
941 Haddonfield Road
Cherry Hill, NJ
Ya gotta love the new Garden State Park shopping area in Cherry Hill. It has brought to the area a group of restaurants that you always hear about in other markets, such as the Cheesecake Factory, Brio, and McCormick & Schmick’s. We were determined to try them all, so when we found McCormick & Schmick’s open recently on our way to Brio (one of our new favorites), we decided to head in and try the place out.
If you are cruising online, hoping to check out a menu from McCormick & Schmick’s to get an idea if you’ll find anything there you want to eat, don’t sell yourself on any particular dish. This restaurant boasts the freshest seafood from various parts of the world, and the daily menu tells you which fish are fresh from what country or state. For example, on our visit on April 10th, They had Massachusetts Bay Scallops; Kona, Hawaii Yellowfin Tuna; and New Zealand Cockles. They use the fresh catches in the meals for the day’s menu, which is heavy on the seafood.
They offer a selection of light entrees and sandwiches, which are really well priced for a late evening snack or late lunch. Starting at just $7.95 for a Classic Reuben sandwich, the lighter fare goes up to $13.95 for a crabcake sandwich. Each sandwich comes with fries, and there are a few salads on the light menu as well.
The appetizer section of the menu is really the first place you’ll come to that features the freshly caught seafood. We ordered the Fried Point Judith Calamari, which was lightly battered and served with three dipping sauces. The sauces were fair – nothing special about them, and this particular dish just lends itself well to a good, fresh marinara sauce, so the other sauces were really unnecessary. The appetizer was $10.95, and there were plenty of crispy calamari rings to justify the price. Just beneath the appetizers on the menu was the “on the half shell” collection of shell fish, and for $12.95, Jim got a sampling of 6 different oysters, but the waiter went over the variety so quickly, it was hard to know which one Jim actually liked the best. Included in the sampler were Imperial Eagle Oysters, Wianno Oysters, Sarah’s Creek Oysters, Cape May Salt Oysters, Duck Island Oysters, and Ship Point Oysters. All were deemed tasty, but by the time he finished the dish, he couldn’t remember the names of any of them, nor had he put aside the shells he favored most highly. They also have a larger sampler of oysters, featuring 2 each of their top 6 oyster varieties.
The soups tonight are not ones I generally order since my gastric bypass surgery, and the salads are nothing we haven’t seen before elsewhere, so I’m not tempted to let one ruin my dinner. The first selection of entrees on the menu is the meat and shellfish section, featuring filet mignon, sirloin steak, and a New York strip, along with upscale shellfish dishes like live Maine lobsters ($21.95 per pound) and King Crab Legs ($29.95 per pound). Also on the menu are traditional seafood offerings like cedar plank salmon, crab cakes, and fish and chips. I opted for grilled sea scallops, advertised with sauteed spinach and a risotto cake. Jim went with one of McCormick & Schmick’s specialties, which was a Mahi Mahi grilled over sweet potato crab hash and BBQ butter sauce.
My scallops arrived piping hot and perfectly cooked, but a little light on seasoning. The risotto cake is an odd creation. Part of the thing about cooking risotto is to make it creamy and not sticky, but the risotto cake is just sticky rice that tastes like risotto. I don’t dislike it, but I find the whole risotto cake to be a bit of an oxymoron. The sauteed spinach is tasty, and helps boost the flavor of the scallops.
Jim’s fish is really good, but the rest of the dish is a bit of an odd combination of flavors. I didn’t care at all for the sweet potato crab hash, although he didn’t think it was as bad as I did. This was dices of sweet potato with some lump crabmeat and a BBQ butter sauce. The combination of the potato and BBQ sauce made the dish way too sweet, and when you threw in the butter, it became way too rich. There were good sized lumps of crabmeat in the hash, but the delicate flavor of the crab was way overpowered by the sickeningly sweet combination of the potatoes and BBQ sauce. Jim finished most of the fish, and we brought the potato side dish home to eat with the left over scallops, but the flavors didn’t fare any better given time to settle in with each other.
As far as gastric bypass patients are concerned, there is an abundance of healthy proteins on the menu here. The seafood is fresh and cooked to order, and there is very little fried fish on the menu, so you will get your fish broiled, grilled, or, in the case of the tuna, seared. Most of the fish comes with some sort of butter sauce – rum butter; lemon butter; bacon and sherry butter… You can ask for them not to include the butter on the dish if you are sensitive to the extra fat. There is a chicken dish – but on the night we were there, there was only one chicken dish besides the buffalo chicken salad. Ask the waiter if you are not familiar with the fish. On the night we were there, there was a fish called a Bronzini on the menu. We would have ordered it, but after discussing with our waiter, we learned that the fish comes out whole, and I am more cautious about fish bones since my surgery.
The prices on the menu are not outrageous, but you will easily spend upwards of $20 - $24 dollars for your entree. When you compare the meal you get here to the meal you might get at Red Lobster for less money, you can certainly see where the difference in price is, but it’s hard to justify the difference.
We wanted to be blown away by the meal here, and the bottom line is we were not. For the amount of money we spent, blown away would have been better. This is a nice only once in a while for an occasion type restaurant. My kids will probably keep eating at Red Lobster.