Atmosphere: Colonial-nautical; very comfortable and tasteful.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday; 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday; 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Price range: $7.95 to $17.50. Most dinners in $8.95 to $10.95 range.
Reservations: A good idea on weekends.
Credit cards: American Express, Visa, Mastercharge.
Special facilities: Parking in restaurant lot; high chairs and boosters available; ramp makes restaurant easily accessible to handicapped; cocktail menu.
It's not necessary to go to the ocean or the end of some Eastern Shore pier for a good catch. You can sail around a good bit without finding a better seafood restaurant than the charming Barclay's, recently opened in Fairfax.
Although the restaurant has a nautical character, there is not a single stuffed swordfish on the walls or fishnet hanging from the rafters. Instead, the decor is colonial, suggesting a comfortably furnished New England inn. There are cozy banquettes, and wing chairs at several tables in front of a large fireplace.
The best news is that the food is worthy of its setting. Barclay's calls itself a "purveyor of fresh fish." According to our waitress, only the shrimp and Alaskan king crab legs are frozen.
In addition to a tempting variety of shellfish and fish fillets, both broiled and fried, Barclay's lists daily specials such as stuffed trout and sole amandine on a blackboard in the foyer. Dinner includes a house salad or seafood chowder, warm biscuits with honey butter, and a choice of potatoes or rice pilaf. Children's dinners -- hamburger, crab legs or shrimp tempura -- are available for $3.95 and $4.95.
Our 10-year-old daughters asked for a salad with their shrimp tempura, but my husband and I opted for the seafood chowder, and were glad we did. It was thick with meaty chunks of seafood, smooth and flavorful. Warm biscuits were delightful, and the honey butter a nice touch, but the entrees pleased us most.
The girls' shrimp were huge and tender, the feather-light batter crisp and greaseless. My husband had ordered scallops Norfolk, $9.95, succulent morsels which had been, as the menu promised, "carefully prepared" in rich butter sauce.
I chose one of the evening's specialties, stuffed trout, $10.95. It was a whole, carefully broiled fish, its cavity filled with moist pieces of luscious lump crabmeat, truly a delicious offering that was perfectly cooked.
For dessert we sampled a decent but ordinary cheesecake, $2.25, and a scrumptious pecan pie, $2.50. Most desserts on the menu were $2.50, so when Amy decided she wanted fresh strawberries, suggested by our waitress but not listed, we assumed they were similarly priced.
The serving of strawberries was large enough for two, and grandly presented in a three-tiered glass tower of bowls, one containing the berries, one the sour cream, and one the brown sugar. Each bowl separated from the others so the berries could be dipped in cream and then in sugar. It was a simple but spectacular dessert with, we learned, a spectacular price tag: $4.50.
We would have appreciated advice from our waitress on the size and price of the serving, especially since it was being ordered for a child. Amy carried most of the strawberries home and ate them gleefully the next day.
Our bill, including the strawberries, tax and tip, was $53. We look forward to going back for more of Barclay's luscious sea fare.