It’s a cold and rainy Wednesday night as we make our way to Doc Magrogan’s West Chester. The dark wood and warm lighting exude a timeless style and charm that invites us in from the cold. With just enough nautical décor, Doc’s recreates the vintage feel of a 1900’s Oyster House, and in true Oyster House fashion strives to serve the best seafood around. Executive Chef Karen Weinstein is an integral part of this mission, and her passion for great food helps Doc’s live up to their “Fresh Starts Here” motto. Joining the team in 2012, Chef Weinstein has played a large role in creating the new menu which has just premiered at the West Chester location of Doc’s last week.
In talking with Chef Weinstein, she expressed that she has “always loved the flavor of Asian cuisine” and that there is “a lot of Asian influence in [her] cooking.” This love definitely shines through in several dishes on the new menu. Steamed Edamame, Orange Sesame Shrimp, and Wasabi Pea Crusted Ahi Tuna are just three of the new appetizers that will be featured. Now Steamed Edamame may seem an unlikely addition to an Oyster House menu, but Weinstein creates an intriguing connection. The pods are generously dusted with Old Bay and served with a wedge of lemon. The spice and salt from the Old Bay, combined with the acidity and citrus from the lemon, dress up the fresh green flavor of the edamame perfectly. One bite and there’s no doubt that the flavors are classic American seafood. This clever riff on a simple classic makes this dish right at home on Doc’s new menu.
It’s easy to see why the Orange Sesame Shrimp has been a best seller at Doc Magrogan’s Philadelphia location, and why it will be making its debut in West Chester with the new menu. Served on a bed of Asian slaw, the tempura battered shrimp are perfectly cooked; succulent and crispy without being too heavily battered. Coated in an orange sesame glaze that has notes of Thai chili and just enough sweetness and spice, this dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
For those who like tuna, the Wasabi Pea Crusted version on the new menu is a must try. This dish is full of textural contrast: the crispiness of the panko and crushed wasabi pea crust interplays with the maillard browning of the seared tuna, which gives way to a thin veneer of cooked tuna that melds seamlessly into buttery rare ahi goodness. The flavors at play are everything you could want. The wasabi is a natural pairing to the tuna, while the peas add a unique and mellow sweetness. Slight maltiness from the panko helps transport the enticing aroma and flavor of sesame oil, while a side of soy sauce gives you the option of more salt and umami if desired.
As could be expected, Doc’s Oyster House offers up a fantastic selection of seasonal raw oysters. For an oyster with more pronounced sweetness look to the Mapleque or Raspberry Point, but if you’re after a more pronounced brininess the Blue Point fits the bill. Alternatively, a sampler tray will offer a wide variety and the chance to explore the nuances of the oyster world.
Appetizers and oysters aren’t the only things on this menu to rave about. The Grilled Seafood Cobb Salad is just one of many entrée salads that aim to please. Here, as with other dishes on the menu, it’s easy to see how Doc Magrogan’s does a great job of presenting classic concepts in a style that is distinctively Doc’s. The essentials of a Cobb salad like avocado, bleu cheese, tomato, and chopped hard-boiled eggs, are paired with a variety of expertly grilled seafood and a delicious lemon parmesan dressing. It is Cobb salad gone maritime with a range of flavors and textures that culminate in a delightfully substantial salad.
The grilled salmon that makes an appearance in the Cobb salad can be found throughout the new menu. Perhaps the dish where it shines most brightly is the Skuna Bay Salmon & Crab Hash. Full of sweet and earthy flavors, this dish shows off the sheer quality of the fish. Slightly crispy salmon sits atop a mixture of sweet potato, bell peppers, and sweet crab meat. A barbeque beurre blanc adds luxurious richness as well as depth, sweetness, and complexity; while a garnish of fried leek strips add just the right textural contrast and complementary aromatics.
Another component from the Cobb salad that makes a notable appearance elsewhere on the menu is the scallops. The Pan Seared Viking Village Sea Scallops is a dish of delicacy and balance, where again the quality of the seafood shines. Succulent and crispy pan seared scallops sit atop a hash of cauliflower, bell pepper, and fingerling potatoes. The sweet corn emulsion that adorns the plate is absolutely delicious with a fresh sweet corn flavor, dreamy silky texture, and notes of saffron. Each component of this dish creates balance and harmony with each other, and serves to showcase the quality of the scallops.
All of the dinner options on the new menu are great, but another one of note is Doc’s Famous Crab Cakes. The crab cakes are delicious and moist, with loads of crab and just enough binder to hold them together. The crispy exterior and inherent sweetness pairs beautifully with the rich citrus aioli and cooling celeriac-apple slaw. Textural contrast and cool vegetal flavors from the slaw play well against the crab cakes, and shoelace-fine strips of fried sweet potato add textural interest, not to mention delicious aroma and flavor.
Not only is the food at Doc Magrogan’s delectable, but they are making it part of their mission to feature more sustainably harvested seafood from responsible fisheries. The salmon from Skuna Bay is a great example of this. As Chef Weinstein explains, “Skuna Bay Salmon…is a sustainable product that we source…it’s farm raised…where their feed is specific, the way that they catch them is specific…there’s a whole story to this Skuna Bay Salmon.” She notes that they “want to take Doc’s a step up,” and with a delicious new menu featuring ingredients you can feel good about, Doc’s is sure to continue the climb.
Find Doc Magrogan’s of West Chester at 117 E. Gay St. in West Chester, or online at docmagrogans.com.