THE RESTAURANT AT SMITHFIELD STATION (Reviews & Photos)

Smithfield Station has been one of my top local choices for fine dining for more than a decade. On my most recent visit there, I was very disappointed and unimpressed. They will not take reservations, so I was a little anxious upon driving up to…see that the parking lots in front of the restaurant/hotel and across the street were nearly full. This was on a Saturday late afternoon/early evening. I thought that maybe we did not beat the crowd to the restaurant and would be waiting for a table. However, I should have kept in mind that the parking lots are shared with the marina, the hotel, and Windsor Castle Park. There were many empty tables in the restaurant, and we were seated immediately. The ambience of the dining room was unchanged: bright, clean, casual, and nautically themed. Table service was prompt and friendly. I noted that there were few, if any, changes to the menu items from years’ past; however, in keeping with the times, the prices have increased noticeably. Unfortunately, while the prices have gone up, the quality and quantity of the food served and the thought that went into its preparation and plating have gone down considerably. The steamed shrimp ($21.95/lb.) were not deveined and, therefore, were a chore to peel. Furthermore, they were served without finger wipes, so they made for a messy first course. The blackened shrimp and salmon ($27.95) came with a piece of salmon smaller than is served at Ruby Tuesday’s and four medium-sized shrimp. The bearnaise sauce accompanying them was improperly prepared as it was separating on the plate. This never should have left the kitchen! (We also thought that there was too much conflict between the flavors of the blackened seasoning and the bearnaise sauce; that is a matter of taste, but something to consider.) The seafood combination platter ($31.95) came with four medium-small shrimp, four small bay scallops, a moderately sized piece of flounder, and a nicely sized but very bland and mushy crab cake. It came with two of the most tasteless hush puppies I’ve ever eaten, or, in this case, did not want to eat. I would have felt that I was overcharged for this dish even at half the price. I was also dissatisfied that the entrées were served with a choice either a potato or a vegetable, not a potato and vegetable. Again, the portion size of the side dish was small. My conclusion: ambience and the dearth of competition for fine dining in Smithfield will not be enough to keep this restaurant afloat without prompt and significant changes. Pick up your game, Pack family! We can get better meals elsewhere at half the price.