Jimmy's Harborside

Sometimes, you find a restaurant that makes you wish you’d stayed in for pizza.

Jimmy’s Harborside, as the name suggests, is on the water. One entire wall is a plate-glass window overlooking the Harbor, with a beautiful view. Seeing the view, I requested a window table. The woman at the front desk glared at me before barking a negative response. It was the beginning of an uneven evening.

As we meekly waited for our table, I took the opportunity to check out the bar area. The bar at Jimmy’s is worth a visit. It’s shaped and painted like a boat, so if you sit facing out you can see both the water view and the people on the other side. It’s contrived, but it’s a nice place to have a quiet drink and relax. Most of the people seemed content to watch the last bit of sun flicker on the water in silence.

At table, our waiter was bright and cheerful. He brought us freshly baked rolls, warm and soft. They were delicious.

The wine list was well-organized, providing several suggested wines for different foods. It was interesting to note that at several points on the list, similar wines were listed next to each other: wines with similar names, and identical years, but with prices differing up to $10-15. Buyer beware: check your labels carefully or you may end up with a much more expensive wine than you intended.

Oddly, our wine came to the table warm, warmer than room temperature. When we inquired about the temperature, the waiter assured us that ALL the bottles were the same temperature, due, in part, to badly working air conditioning in the wine storage area.

The food suffered from the same unevenness as the service.

For the appetizers, the standards were good: scallops wrapped in bacon (how could you go wrong?) and fish chowder. The latter had big chunks of flaky fish in a classic creamy chowder base. The crabcakes made in the New England style, breaded and fried. They were fine, but for a Marylander like myself, they fell far short of the mark.

Scrod is a delicious fish with an unfortunate name. Here, it was prepared simply: lightly fried and served plain with a side of rice or potatoes. Perfectly cooked, it melted on the tongue and was quite simply fantastic.

Another standout was the soft-shell crabs, a special of the evening. Three tiny crabs were served on a bed of chopped jicama, onions, and peppers. Two different kinds of melon added a surprisingly mild sweetness and the whole thing was lightly dusted with herbs. It was excellent.

The promising Chilean sea bass was a disappointment. Served with shrimp and gnocchi, it looked and sounded amazing. The reality, however, was less impressive. The fish was slightly overdone, it was almost overwhelmingly buttery, and the gnocchi were chewy.

As the meal wore on, our waiter lost some of his carefully cultivated cheer. At a customer’s request that he snap a photo of the table, he smiled broadly and remarked somewhat sarcastically, “Of course, I do it all day long!”

Overall, the meal had some bright moments, but the general impression was slightly disappointing, especially considering the high prices (entr‚es ranged from $16 to 25).

Jimmy’s appears to be pitching mainly for the tourist market. As such, it’s a safe place to bring your aged aunt, who will be thrilled with the views and-with careful menu selections-will enjoy a decent meal. Aside from that, however, my advice is to steer clear.