Starting From Scratch

 Starting From Scratch

Sweeney’s Seafood uses fresh ingredients to create flavorful featuresEric Spangler Using fresh ingredients is the key to great food in the restaurant business, says Lisa Long, general manager and one of the owners of Sweeney’s Seafood Bar & Grill at 28 W. Franklin St. in Centerville. “Fresh ingredients are the only way to go,” she says.

It’s one of the reasons Sweeney’s Seafood has consistently earned high praise from reviewers and customers alike, says Long, including being voted Best Catch by attendees of Dayton Magazine’s Best of Dayton event in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. “That’s what makes us different from the (restaurants) that just open cans or packages,” she says. “Anybody can open a can.”

Sweeney’s Seafood, which recently celebrated its 25th year in business in September, makes almost every item on the menu from scratch, says Long. Starting from scratch with fresh ingredients is not the most efficient way to cook a meal, she admits. “It takes a lot longer and it’s a lot more energy, but the food quality is superb compared to the others,” Long says.

Those fresh ingredients start with the fish and seafood, which is delivered several times throughout the week, she says. The restaurant works with a select group of fish and seafood providers in the region to get the freshest fish and seafood flown into the Midwest before it’s delivered directly to Sweeney’s Seafood, says Long.

That connection to fresh fish and seafood is used to develop the restaurant’s popular weekly specials. Those specials—which vary from week to week and season to season, she says—use high-quality fish and seafood such as Alaskan halibut, Chilean sea bass, Canadian walleye, Atlantic swordfish and shark, Pacific cobia and corvine, Florida soft-shell crab, Atlantic grouper and red snapper, Chesapeake Bay oysters and clams, and wild salmon from the Faroe Islands.

In addition to those weekly specials featuring in-season fish and seafood, some of Sweeney’s most popular menu items include crab cakes, organic bourbon salmon, calamari, scallops, New England clam chowder and desserts, says Long. “We’re known for our house-made desserts.”

She says customers are able to have just about anything on the menu cooked and prepared they way they like it. For example, if a menu item says it is fried but the customer would like it broiled or baked Sweeney’s Seafood can accommodate that.

For those who like to request a beer with a meal the restaurant has its own craft India pale ale beer—Sweeney’s Reel It In, brewed by Hi-Wire Brewing in North Carolina—in addition to the 12 rotating craft beer selections on its beer menu, Long says.

Sweeney’s Seafood also has rooms available for private parties and Long will design a menu just for that party. The restaurant is a popular location for rehearsal dinners and birthday parties and can accommodate groups as large as 45 people, she says.