Knowing that Rachael Ray recommended Sea Swirl was nearly enough to extinguish my interest in the Mystic seafood shack. Thankfully, Jane and Michael Stern of Roadfood got there first, lending the Swirl lasting credibility.
Not that the Swirl needed the Sterns’ stamp of approval. David Blaney and his family have thrived as owners of the former Carvel ice cream shop since the mid ‘80s, and Sea Swirl was in operation long before then. The restaurant’s logo (a fish holding an ice cream cone) makes it clear why people keep showing up.
Sea Swirl is open through Columbus Day every year, closing in the late fall, winter and early spring. It’s set next to a tire shop and a pond below the Inn at Mystic. It’s all picnic table seating, either covered or sun-drenched.
Sea Swirl sells 24 varieties of soft-serve ice cream, but they specialize in “delicious seafood hand battered and cooked to order.” The sea scallop dinner ($15.20) with French fries and cole slaw was very good. The scallops weren’t battered when they were fried in soybean oil, so they sported caramelized coats and sweet interiors.
This “side order” of deep-fried clam belly ($16.40) was massive, spilling out of a white paper bag. The bellies were moist and clean tasting, with oily sheathes. Tartar sauce wasn’t necessary.
New England clam chowder contained fresh clams and cubed potatoes and wasn’t too thick.
The Sterns live in Connecticut, so it’s no surprise they have a handle on the local seafood scene. Sea Swirl was one of their better suggestions in the area.