Smithtown Seafood Hooks Me
The smiling staff, the worried/hurried cooks, the advisers, investors, accelerators, and the producers behind the scenes: they are ready for us at Smithtown Seafood, the newest member of the Holly Hill Inn family of restaurants, and a crucial FoodChain link. The problem I'm having now is staying away.
I got lucky and went to an early tasting of this new restaurant's inventive food. They had me at the first bite of rice paper taco, drizzled in some delicious Asian-inflected vinaigrette, stuffed with house-made veggie pickles, centered on sustainably raised seafood, some of it grown and processed 100 feet away.
And they've had me ever since. It's that delicious, and it's that friendly to a gluten avoider and flavor seeker.
As is the case in all the Holly Hill Inn restaurants, the chefs know how to fry, and they know how to make healthy food taste and look splendid.
All the greens on all the salads and tacos come from FoodChain's brilliant aquaponics installation just behind the Smithtown kitchen in the Bread Box building at the corner of Jefferson and West Sixth in Lexington. Seating, if you wish, is through an interior doorway at West Sixth Brewing Company, where you can choose from several fine craft beers and a house-made soft drink, or get a locally produced Ale8-1 or other soft drink from the restaurant.
While you eat, the plants and fish of FoodChain are doing their symbiotic dance, eating and (sorry about this in a food post)...excreting and taking up nutrients and making each other mutually fat and happy. If you have trouble holding aquaponics specifics in your head, as I do, help has arrived. Watch this brilliant 2.5 minute description of the whole aquaponics process—and be thinking about neglected buildings near you that can turn into fish-and-salad farms.
The science of it involves scrubbies—in baggies.
As they observe, and analyze, the humans who run the system—bless their practical, sustainability-guided, economics-inspired, scientist hearts and brains—tweak it constantly. Recently they added a new, cool (literally, as in temperature) seed-starting room.
Another example: the FoodChainers have learned recently that while seeds will start in this medium that looks ever so much like very bad bread pudding, it's not a perfect starter solution.
Becca and Mims and the FoodChain interns, volunteers, board members and allies work constantly to make their system as effective, productive, sustainable, and affordable as possible, so others can learn from their efforts and launch aquaponics farms. As they work and learn, and as the fish and plants grow, we benefit from the great results.
Which leads, at Smithtown Seafood, right back to those fish tacos, whole tilapia prepared either Singapore, Roja, or Casablanca style, and other mouth-watering tastes that are new and fine in one of Lexington's old and fine neighborhoods.