Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

Sea views with each bite

Oh, the joy of a waterside table! And after the winter we’ve had, it’s magical to sit at one even if you’re wearing a coat.
The water, in this case, is the same body through which the Pilgrims made their way to Plymouth Rock (the boulder’s just up the road) and the restaurant is the former 14 Union, newly renovated and renamed Union Fish Seafood & Raw Bar.

The double-decker eatery is in the Brewer Marina building, set off the street a bit amid dozens of boats in a big boatyard. The restaurant has two spaces and two menus: an enormous downstairs deck with a casual bill of fare, and the upstairs, indoor, year-round restaurant that offers more complete dinners.
Almost every spot in the 215-seat house has a water view. The deep gray upstairs space has windows on three walls, dark wood floors, silver appointments, and white tablecloths. The simple design showcases the real decor: a 180-degree panorama of water, boats, distant isles, and even the replica of the Mayflower.
The menus have some crossovers — baked haddock ($18), crab cakes ($10), clam chowder ($6), as well as the raw bar offerings. Then, too, if you want to eat upstairs, inside, but are craving something from the downstairs menu (or vice versa) you can ask pretty please and the kitchen is likely to oblige.
Which is what we did on a second, recent dinner visit upstairs after having eaten downstairs on what seemed like the only sunny day we’ve had in the past couple weeks. We were thus able to enjoy the sesame-crusted tuna ($14) from the downstairs menu, while cozy and warm upstairs. This seared tuna appetizer — crusted with black and white sesame seeds and served with Asian peanut noodles — was big enough for a small meal.
I like both menus. They’re manageable in size and even though downstairs is the more casual one, upstairs has lighter and less costly choices, too.
Downstairs I had the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, hands down. The four pieces of fish were encased in an indescribably light, crispy batter that doesn’t fall off when you take a bite.
However, the house tartar sauce needs a better mayo for its base, this one’s too sweet. I got around that, though, by eating the fish and chips with the delicious lemon aioli that came with the succulent peel-and-eat shrimp ($16), also on the downstairs menu. The shrimp, cleaned but still in their shells, were robustly seasoned and cooked perfectly so the flesh was springy and beautiful.
The crab cake appetizer consists of two small, tasty patties, although I would have liked more of a crust on them.
We had one of four fish specials, too, for a main course downstairs, a nice pan-seared halibut ($23), with a slightly tired baked potato and fresh string beans.
Upstairs, on a dreary evening, we ate more lightly, paradoxically, than we had downstairs, sharing a few appetizers and a great burger ($14) smothered in good caramelized onions and blue cheese. I liked being able to get an appetizer portion of fried clams ($11) — upstairs — and found them good, as were the fries that sided them.
The barbecue tenderloin, shrimp, and pepper-crusted swordfish satay ($10) was a pretty appetizer and a good-sized plate of protein. It has a small skewer of tenderloin bites, six skewered grilled shrimp (whose taste, sadly, didn’t compare with the peel-and-eat shrimp), and a nice serving of tender blackened swordfish.
Desserts are made in house and the toffee brownie sundae ($7) was worthy of a queen. The brownie-sized piece of cake was ultra-moist and ribboned with chewy toffee. It was topped with both vanilla ice cream and whipped cream and sided with a little container of warm caramel sauce. Brilliant. The coconut crème brulee ($7) was only OK.
I love this place. When summer comes, it’ll be well worth a ride if you want a magnificent waterside table and a pretty solid chance of having a very tasty meal for not too much of a dent in the wallet.