Best Seafood Restaurant: Highly thoughtful sea-life alchemy

Sea Salt

The Berkeley fish house navigates a delicate course. The menu has to reel in diners of a conservative culinary bent — the early birds who might be just as happy with the grilled swordfish at Spenger’s Fish Grotto — as well as avid foodies eager to order any dish that promises, say, a jolt of the Yemeni hot sauce called zhoug. Anthony Paone does an awesome job juxtaposing pristine versions of captain’s platter classics with modern dishes that pop with the bona fides of a great chef. Spot-on renditions of bacon-smoky clam chowder and classically spare fish and chips appeal to the thrill-averse. Meanwhile, a dish as gorgeously Cali as grilled squid with almond-basil pesto and meaty gigante beans stands up to the best of the Bay Area. And where classic and creative unite — as in the signature BLT, the restaurant’s bacon, lettuce, and trout sandwich — Sea Salt approaches marine magic.

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