Terminal A at Bradley International Airport recently expanded its retail offerings considerably, making it a much more welcoming place for travelers.
One of its most appealing dining options is Phillips Seafood, an outlet of a limited but popular chain originating a century ago in a seafood processing plant on Hoopers Island in Chesapeake Bay, Md., and currently found in Ocean City and Baltimore, Md.; Atlantic City, N.J.; four other airports; two casinos (including Foxwoods); one Maryland freeway welcome center; and the Washington Redskins Stadium. Phillips Seafood attributes its success to its relentless effort to "serve classic seafood favorites, provide outstanding service and create a memorable dining experience for our guests."
The Bradley-based Phillips Seafood is sleek, modern and lacking in kitsch except for a square support column decorated with colorful lobster buoys. The dozen or so dining tables and the counter seating tend toward minimalist, but the cobalt-blue bar area with white quartz countertop and Edison drop lights has a great feel to it.
The quality is immediately evident; Phillips is not just another slinger of heavily breaded fried seafood, a KFC of the seas. Many of the recipes are generations-old classics. Appetizers range from $10 to $15. Without exaggeration, crab cake minis melt in your mouth. A retro treat, a soft pretzel is topped with crab dip and melted cheese. There's even a seafood sampler. Finally, there are festive-looking specialty cocktails ($9 to $13), including a Blue Crab Margarita that is crabby in name only and Phillips Famous Signature Bloody Mary with Phillips Seasoning on the rim and a skewer with shrimp, Cheddar, pepperoni, celery and an olive.
But these items only hint at what can be found on Phillips Seafood's menu. Soups ($7.99) include lobster bisque and Maryland crab vegetable. Salads ($6.99 to $14.99) can be enhanced with additional proteins ($6 to $8). Appetizers ($9.99 to $15.99) include delights like shiitake mushroom pot stickers ($10.99), salt-and-pepper calamari ($11.99) and a seafood sampler ($15.99).
Served with waffle fries, sandwiches ($12.99 to $21.99) encompass an 8-ounce Angus burger with two toppings ($13.99), grilled mahi-mahi ($14.99), blackened yellowfin tuna ($16.99), soft-shell crab ($16.99), grilled fish tacos ($17.99) and classic (New England-style) lobster ($21.99).
Land & sea entrées ($16.99 to $28.99) include beer-battered fish and chips ($1.99), lobster ravioli ($16.99), grilled mojito-rubbed mahi-mahi ($17.99), seared spice-rubbed yellowfin tuna ($18.99), grilled sirloin steak ($19.99) and a fried seafood platter ($27.99). Not to mention desserts ($6.49) like vanilla bean cheesecake, chocolate Bundt cake and Bourbon Street pecan pie.
Phillips Seafood is worth going out of one's way for, but ironically (unless one catches it at the Foxwoods outlet) the only way one can enjoy it is on one's way somewhere.
Phillips Seafood, 11 Schoephoester Road, Windsor Locks, is open to travelers 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; 860-758-7862 and phillipsseafood.com