My first experience at Ponti Seafood Grill was exactly nine months ago. Lauren and I had finalized our wedding date just in time to be able to celebrate our “-1 year anniversary” (yes, we are a geek couple). I had been meaning to try Ponti for years (since it had first been recommended to me in 1998), and my first experience was a memorable one. We were seated on the patio overlooking the ship canal, and immersed ourselves in the casually romantic ambience. The shrimp appetizer, seared scallop angel hair pasta, and chocolate dessert were all fantastic. Overall the evening was a positive indicator for future anniversaries 🙂
Fast forward nine months. DeAnn has a college friend in town and wanted to show him a good seafood restaurant that didn’t break the bank. Armed with our Prime card 2 for 1 benefit, Lauren and I suggested Ponti. A quick check on OpenTable showed availability at 7:45PM for our party. We locked in the slot, and showed up promptly to enjoy our dinner.
Unfortunately it was to be almost an hour and a half before we were able to enjoy our meal. The hostess had horribly overbooked the restaurant and there were 3 large (>6 person) parties in addition to our own that all waited 30-40 minutes to be seated. This is when the darker side of Ponti hospitality reared its ugly head. The hostess told us “just a few minutes” enough to make me think we were living the Seinfeld Chinese Restaurant episode. After she parked us in the bar area, the waitress asked for our drink order. When it was apparent we weren’t ordering drinks, she walked off in a huff and only returned with dirty looks that I can only assume meant we were taking up a table she could be making tips from. It seems that my group of grad students who had come to eat seafood, not sit in a holding pattern should be expected to pay for this “privilege”? Their top marks for service were getting more tarnished by the minute.
When we were finally seated around 8:20PM the waiter was pleasant and helpful. We ordered a few appetizers and our entrees, and then proceeded to catch up with DeAnn’s friends. Fortunately we had plenty of conversation to pass the time and no one was ravenously hungry, as our appetizers were treated as side dishes by the staff. All of our food arrived together at 9:15PM.
The food aspect of Ponti’s remained true to my fond memories. My compatriots encouraged roaming forks, so I was able to sample an assortment of dishes. The dungeness crab spring rolls were flaky, generous with crab, and complemented with a smooth red curry & cilantro aioli. The cajun barbeque prawns were reminiscent of New Orleans, and were still enjoyable at room temperature (they had sadly suffered from a disconnect between the kitchen and our inattentive waitstaff).
Soft shell crab is in season, and if you’ve never experienced the act of consuming an entire crab from head to claw, the Garlic Tempura Soft Shell Crab at Ponti is a great introduction.
Ponti smokes their Black Cod in house, and if you enjoy smoky flavor with smooth, slightly-oily black cod texture then this is the dish for you. The Grilled Ahi is a variation of the Asian-fusion seared Ahi dish that is popular around town. The Ahi steak is enormously thick and fresh. It is served with a tasty medley of wasabi, soy and sriracha slaw. I personally prefer searing to grilling for this dish, but this is a fine sample of the grilled variation.
Overall the food was great with service that could use a stern reprimand. I’ll be on the phone providing fodder for such this week, and hopefully your service experience will be more on par with the food!
Ponti Seafood Grill
3014 3rd Ave North
Seattle, WA 98109
Daily: 5:00PM-close (Dinner only)