Want Seafood In Elizabethton? Mayflower’s the Place. Again.
One of my readers let me know that Elizabethton’s formerly closed Mayflower Seafood Restaurant had reopened the week before, and that Bobby Hodges, son and nephew (respectively) of original founders George and Larry Hodges, was the new owner. My sharp-eyed friend told me that Hodges had overseen the dining facility’s renovation, and that there was new talent in the kitchen preparing food served by a wait staff both competent and friendly. Now, the dine-around bunch and I had “issues” with both food and service on our last Mayflower outing, causing the normally sweet-tempered Dieter to declare she’d ice-skate in Hades before eating there again. Nevertheless, the five of us determined to give the Mayflower’s new look and Hodges’ new ownership a chance to change our minds.
Mayflower Seafood Restaurant occupies its familiar storefront at the far end of the Betsytowne Shopping Center just off Elizabethton’s Highway 19E. There’s plenty of parking out front and a short walk to Mayflower’s front door. The restaurant’s foyer is serviceable but comfortable, with the hostess’ lectern just inside. The dining area has been renovated with fewer nautical gimcracks and features a bright new coat of paint. There is table and booth seating for about two hundred or so in new, sturdy chairs. The floor is clean, as are the rest rooms, all contributing to a welcome lack of the dinginess that was much in evidence on our previous visit.
(Soup, a salad, shrimp and oysters)
Wanting to test the competence of the wait staff, I asked our server Lisa what her recommendation was for something light and low-sodium. Lisa suggested I go a la carte and try the cold boiled shrimp and raw oysters in the Mayflower Favorite ($10.99) along with a house salad ($3.49). I agreed, adding on a bowl of clam chowder (listed in the menu as “Captain’s Soup,” $3.99). Lisa had my order in front of me inside of fifteen minutes. The chowder was the real, stand-a-spoon-up-in-it thick, creamy New England style, with potato, chopped celery and carrot in there with some sizable chunks of clam. Black pepper was all I needed, that and a couple of crackers to aid in the stirring and mixing. The salad was cold, crisp and well-served with a couple squirts of oil and wine vinegar to bump up the palate cleansing quotient I was looking for. The cold, boiled shrimp were succulent, cooked correctly and served with tails attached for easier handling. Best were the raw oysters, eight to ten in number, shucked from their shells just moments before reaching the table. I spooned up each beauty, adding a little black pepper to its limpid shiny surface as my grandfather had taught me, then popped it into my mouth. I savored each oyster’s nutty, slightly metallic taste (a Chesapeake, undoubtedly) and the sharp bite of the ground pepper. A quick slurp then down the hatch, leaving me pleased and smiling. Ignoring looks from my dining partner. I reached for another.
A Mayflower Seafood’s “Senior” platter features (among others) a six-ounce broiled filet of whitefish along with a choice of one side order and a house salad, all for $8.99. This meal choice appealed to two members of the dine-around bunch, one being the Retiree, who ordered broccoli along with her house salad. The other, surprisingly, was the Carnivore, who informed us that he’d been under the weather of late and needed a light meal as nutritional restorative; adding baked potato with sour cream and black pepper would aid in recovery of his alimentary health and appetite. Lisa was very solicitous with the Carnivore’s order, lingering at table afterwards to make sure everything was satisfactory.
(Broiled baby shrimp)
The Dieter was still looking for the kitchen and staff of Mayflower Seafood Restaurant to prove themselves worthy of her custom. She chose broiled baby shrimp, a baked sweet potato and a house salad ($8.99) as her order. Delivered in about fifteen minutes, the baby shrimps were broiled correctly and lightly dusted with Old Bay seasoning. The baked sweet potato’s smooth, buttered sweetness made a proper accompaniment to the shrimp, and her house salad performed its palate cleansing task admirably.
(Captain Smith’s Platter)
My dining partner chose the Captain Smith’s Platter ($13.99), being a large fried sampler of flounder, baby shrimp, oysters, scallops and deviled crab. The fish and shellfish were all fresh and fried correctly, while the Maryland-style deviled crab featured chunks of claw and backfin crabmeat. Add some squirts of scratch-made tartar and cocktail sauce and my dining partner was pleased.
Under new owner Bobby Hodges’ guidance, Mayflower Seafood Restaurant has made a welcome return to the Carter County dining scene. My friends and I enjoyed our dinner in surroundings both attractive and clean, with service that was exemplary and food preparation, excellent. Given their current popularity, reservations are advisable and you may experience a short wait for your table. With time and hard work, both Hodges and Mayflower will truly be what the slogan on their menu says: a “New Discovery in Seafood Enjoyment.” It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.
Mayflower Seafood Restaurant
1733 Highway 19E
Tue-Thu 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Fri 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Sat 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Sun 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Available on Facebook & social media
Credit cards accepted