Table Talk

No-frills restaurant part of seafood market on West Side

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Chef Steve Muntean displays an oyster po' boy sandwich at Frank's Cooked Fish & Seafood Carry-Out, 5249 Trabue Road.

Responding to the call from his customers, local seafood purveyor Frank Gonzalez has entered the restaurant world.

The owner of Frank's Fish & Seafood Market on the West Side has carved a tiny portion of his 6,800-square-foot building to provide a no-frills, mostly take-out eatery serving fresh, homemade fare.

The aptly titled Frank's Cooked Fish & Seafood Carry-Out is located at 5249 Trabue Road.

"That was the next step," Gonzalez said of his new business.

Gonzalez said ever since Ray Johnson's Fish Market, the old-school seafood restaurant in downtown Columbus, closed in 2006, customers have been asking him to open a business that serves inexpensive, quick-serve fare, such as fish and chips, soups and sandwiches.

So Gonzalez outfitted about 500 square feet of his building and installed brand new kitchen equipment for the restaurant, technically a separate business, which seats 10.

A patio now under construction will open up an additional 70 seats during warmer weather.

Gonzalez hired chef Steve Muntean, who had ambitions beyond the deep-fryer.

Muntean, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, puts his signature touch on a rather extensive menu that takes advantage of the bounty of seafood available at the market.

"I tried to put a menu together that had all of your traditional stuff and things you are not going to find every day," Muntean said.

One of the biggest sellers so far is the oyster po' boy -- oysters, deep-fried to order, placed on a toasty baguette and drizzled with a Tabasco lime aioli. Muntean said he went through six different vendors before finding the right bread.

He serves several classic dishes, including oysters Rockefeller, hush puppies and shrimp cocktail.

But Muntean also puts a modern spin on some plates, such as the Guinness-battered cod for the fish and chips.

A Jamaican-style fried snapper is glazed with a hot-and-sour sauce. Shrimp tacos, another early favorite, are topped with lettuce, pico de gallo, jicama slaw and a drizzle of cilantro sour cream.

Muntean, former owner of B's Bistro in downtown Columbus, serves four homemade soups daily: clam chowder, gumbo, lobster bisque and a soup of the day. Fries and potato chips are hand-cut.

He said the average ticket time is about 8 minutes. Customers with larger orders are asked to call ahead of time.

Muntean said because Frank's is not a full-service restaurant, and it has access to the fish market, he's able to keep prices reasonable; for example, grilled sushi-grade yellow fin tuna brushed with hoisin is $11.95 and six grilled lemon-garlic scallops, served with rice and coleslaw, is $12.95.

In fact, most sandwich and entree prices are in the $7 and $13 range.

He said he's accommodated the non-seafood crowd with chicken wings, which are brined for 24 hours, par-baked and lightly dusted with flour before being deep-fried. They're served with four homemade sauces or a Cajun dry rub.

"I'll put my wings up against anyone else's in the city," Muntean said.

Frank's is open lunch and early evening hours six days a week and closed Sunday. For more information, call 614-878-8600.