I was nervous walking into The Ketch.
Keep in mind I hadn’t heard its reputation around town for being THE place in Lexington for seafood. I didn’t know a thing about how they prepared their food, how it was cooked, the service, nothing. I didn’t care.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect much walking into The Ketch. From the street, the building appears to be moments away from collapse. The rather “vintage” sign looks like it should belong to a dying seafood restaurant located on the shores of Long Island or Massachusetts, rather than a side road in a land locked state.
The inside? Terrifying. It’s the restaurant that time forgot. They definitely got down the seafood restaurant motif: coral colors everywhere, starfish hanging from the walls, and random items from marinas are plastered all over the bar.
When I was shown my seat at a table near the back, my chair felt like it wasn’t built to support someone my size. It creaked like an old ship, however I’m sure The Ketch wasn’t trying to invoke that image into patron’s heads. Kat and I sat down, ordered our food and hoped for the best.
For an appetizer, we ordered the Wye River Crab Dip with tortilla chips:
At first glance I didn’t think this would be any good. I could tell that it was just poured into the container and thrown into a microwave or oven, and it looked like the top would be a solid film that wouldn’t break from the force of a chip.
However, when I finally tasted the dip, I was amazed. This dip was absolutely fantastic. The crab meat tasted superb, as the dip itself didn’t have an overly crabby taste. The crab went well with the cheese on top, but what REALLY made this dish was the chips. I don’t know where they get their chips, but kudos to whomever. Soft and flakey, the chips were also perfectly seasoned. I rarely take home chips and dip, since the dip doesn’t taste as good when it’s reheated (most likely for a third time, including when it was originally cooked) but I made sure to ask for a box this time. Just this dish could have been enough for a meal, but on this trip I also ordered the Ketch Platter:
The platter consists of broiled or fried whitefish, shrimp, clams and oysters, plus two side orders. As my sides I ordered fries and rice, but I never saw the rice. I wasn’t that upset since I had a boatload of food anyway, however the plate DOES come with a second side, so I am paying for it anyway.
Everything was perfectly fried; not even one piece was overcooked. I loved the fried clams, and solidified my hatred of oysters. It’s not The Ketch’s fault I don’t like oysters; I just never liked them in my life. This platter – and many other dishes – came with remoulade sauce, which I had trouble identifying originally. At first I only really tasted the horseradish since it’s overpowering, and just assumed it was horseradish with some sort of curry or paprika and oil. However I was informed by our waitress that it’s a mayonnaise-based sauce, which was odd because it was pretty runny, didn’t have much body nor have any hint of mayonnaise. The sauce paired well with the fried shrimp and clams but for some reason it didn’t mesh well enough (for me at least) with the whitefish. Kat ordered the shrimp basket, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Again, perfectly cooked.
The whole meal was reasonably priced: two people can have a complete meal, appetizers and drinks included, for about $32 before tip. Some may say it’s a little expensive, but the portions are so large and the food is so tasty and well prepared that you’re getting your money’s worth.
For a take-out item, I had to try their crab cakes. After my initial trip, I told people about my visit and it turns out everyone loves The Ketch. It was “Planet Thai” all over again – where everyone knows the place is exquisite except for me. I was told the crab cakes were worth their hefty price ($11 for two cakes?) and I needed to eat them with the remoulade sauce.
When I got to where I was going, I tried the crab cakes and they. were. DEVINE. I normally don’t fawn over crab cakes - They’re just crab, celery and seasoning – but these were perfect. Again, not too crabby, perfectly cooked and best of all, it wasn’t packed with celery. I hate when I order a crab cake and I get less than an ounce of crab meat and the rest of the patty is celery and seasoning.
Along with the cakes I ordered a side of Old bay Fries, which were their normal fries with Cajun seasoning. They were all right, nothing special. They weren’t spicy and the seasoning didn’t add much taste. I just felt the whole thing was somewhat unnecessary.
So while The Ketch looks like it’s stuck in the past (even their website looks like something you’d find on the Wayback Machine website), their decor is no reason to deter from enjoy a delicious meal. And really – isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?
- John G