Overall impression: I've always been leery of waterfront restaurants because all too often they don't offer much else beyond a view. Blue Moon Fish Company is a big exception, because even after 17 years, it's not only an Intracoastal beauty, but it offers good food to match.
Ambience: Out front, the awkward, narrow space between the road and the front door shows just how committed the builder was to taking advantage of the view. The building sits like a three-story wall between the road and the water. Don't think about sitting inside, because the patio is magically comfortable even in sweltering summer. There are 120 seats outside and 60 inside, which is decorated like a high-end yacht with hints of art deco. If you arrive by boat, there is 200 feet of dockage.
Starters: Start with anything from the raw bar. We had excellent Bon Secours oysters ($4 each), served with chili-malt mignonette. The seafood tower ($68) includes oysters, shrimp, clams, ceviche, tuna poki and lobster cocktail. Many folks come to Blue Moon for steamed mussels ($15), which are served in a white-wine-and-lemon-butter sauce with pancetta, rosemary and tomato. Diver sea scallops ($16) have a gorgeous, pan-roasted golden sear glazed with sweet-chili garlic and served with shaved-heart-of-palm salad. There are several salads, including baby spinach ($11) with caramelized onions, herb vinaigrette and an interesting take on croutons in small goat-cheese fritters.
Entree excellence: Blue Moon specializes in what may best be described as Florida-style seafood. Where else would you find such perfectly sauteed Key West yellowtail snapper ($38), served with Maine lobster Mac & Peas and lime-herb butter? Macadamia-crusted Chilean sea bass ($43) is the kind of dish that usually fails when a chef decides to turn the sauce into a dessert. Not so here, where it gets sweet-cilantro-chili sauce. Lump crab and corn-roasted grouper ($36) is also excellent, served with wild-mushroom-and-asparagus risotto. Dijon-rubbed rack of lamb ($39), grilled filet mignon ($37) and a chicken breast ($29) are among the nonseafood offerings.
Sweet! Desserts have a delicious, kidlike quality: Icky, sticky caramel tart with chunky monkey ice cream ($12) and caramel cheesecake with Oreo crust, bruleed bananas and candied pecans.
Service: Like the food, the attentive service isn't what I expected from a restaurant set on water. Servers are friendly and knowledgeable.
Dining deal: At lunchtime Monday to Saturday, seniors and anyone else who loves a good deal come for the two-for-one lunches. From 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays, well drinks, house wines and signature cocktails are half price, and small-plate appetizers are priced between $9 and $11.
4405 W. Tradewinds Ave., Lauderdale by the Sea
Cost: Expensive-very expensive
Hours: Dinner daily; lunch Monday-Saturday; brunch buffet Sunday
Credit cards: All major
Bar: Full service
Sound level: Conversational
Outside smoking: No
For kids: Highchairs, boosters, menu
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Free valet or meters