Reel Seafood Grill in Greensboro offers fresh local fare

by Kristi Maier


Don’t you just crave seafood sometimes?

Fried seafood is so good, to be sure. But sometimes you just want fresh seafood that tastes, well—.fresh. The owners of Reel Seafood Grill in Greensboro are no strangers to creating a delicious food experience, particularly with sea creatures. Drew Lacklen was the co-owner/chef at Greensboro’s beloved Bert’s Seafood for years. Many a tear shed when Bert’s closed its doors. Heck, I was sad when sister restaurant, Mosaic closed. It definitely was the end of an era.

Reel Seafood Grill opened at 2002 New Garden Road just a couple of years ago. You’d almost miss them in their tiny little shopping center. But if you loved Bert’s, you’ll see hints of the beloved place here and there on the menu even though it changes daily. You can’t forget what you know, right? More times than not, you’ll find Drew Lacklen in his chef’s coat leading the team. If you hang around long enough, off the coat comes and you’ll find him hanging in the bar or chatting it up with folks in the dining room. The dedication to using local seafood and produce remains. He was doing that way before it was fashionable. Together, Lacklen and his business partner, Steve Stern, have nearly 100 years of restaurant experience and pride themselves on having one of the few “all from scratch kitchens” in Greensboro. Stern says it’s just a way of life in their restaurant, “We try to do so as much as possible. Local coffee, main ingredients. The local providers support us and in turn, we support them.”

A couple of years ago, I led a Paleo-style Dishcrawl and included Reel Seafood Grill on the tour. The restaurant was a huge hit and they accomplished a paleo tasting with ease. We hadn’t really had a chance to return until recently and we were pleasantly pleased with our experience. We went on a Thursday night and it was pretty quiet inside. We immediately ordered drinks and a fresh bowl of mussels in a light wine cream sauce. The mussels were perfectly cooked and served with a toasted baguette. So good. You know you always need more bread for sopping up all that flavorful liquid and even though we shouldn’t, we did.

For our entree, the server recommended the North Carolina Flounder which came in two choices, grilled or flash fried with a sweet chili Thai sauce. He warned us that it was a pretty sizable whole founder. Head on and all (yes, please). So we decided to share it with the hopes of saving room for dessert.

Reel Seafood’s flounder is fresh from North Carolina’s coast, caught on Tuesday, received at the restaurant on Wednesday night and served as the special until they run out of them. This flounder was as big as the platter it was on, piping hot and smelling incredible. We couldn’t wait to dig in. And it was amazing. One of the best pieces of flounder I’ve had in recent memory. It was a lot of fish. And it takes a bit of patience to eat a whole flounder—you eat one side in a particular way to avoid the bones and then you flip over and do it all again. Be sure to eat the cheeks! It’s tender and meaty and many believe it’s the best part of the fish. You can choose your sides at Reel and we chose the root vegetables with carrots, onions, parsnips, rutabaga, etc. I’m all for some roasted roots and it was a nice compliment to the sweet and spicy fish. We each got a salad and of the several dressings I’ve tried, I highly recommend the black olive vinaigrette. It’s one of my favorites. As I mentioned before, the menu changes all the time, so you’d need to check their Facebook page for the latest, but you’ll find a variety of seafood offerings like grouper, catfish, tuna, fresh oysters, clams, crab legs, salmon crab imperial, mackerel— you name it and a few offerings to make your land lovers happy. There’s a great selection of side dishes and for dessert, the highly acclaimed Key Lime Pie, which we did not have room for after that flounder and we shared. But we may need to blame getting too full on the extra bread. On Tuesdays, they have a variety of tacos available stuffed with your choice of shrimp, mahi, oysters, tilapia, salmon or ahi tuna.

Even though you’re in the heart of the New Garden/Brassfield area of Greensboro, there’s also a great patio to enjoy on the warmer nights. Ambiance is well lit and fairly casual. You can even enjoy reading a book from one of the shelves while you wait for your meal to be prepared, have a seat at the bar or peruse the art—.there’s a good bit of visual entertainment for your eye with renderings from local artists. Be sure to look up when you go, you’ll see a tip of the hat to their name. !


Reel Seafood Grill is located at 2002 New Garden Road, Greensboro. Check their Facebook page for the daily specials.