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By Josette Keeloremail@example.com
WINCHESTER-Winchester is far from the Chesapeake, far from Virginia Beach and Washington and other well-known seafood venues. When visitors come to the Northern Shenandoah Valley, they don't expect to find great seafood.
Restaurant owner Randy Cadmus is looking to change that.
Formerly the Naked Oyster on Valley Avenue in Winchester, Clearwater Market and Restaurant, at 216 E. Piccadilly St. is bigger, snazzier and, Cadmus hopes, more able to serve its growing customer base.
"Our new facility has approximately 40 feet in display cooler space, which is drastically larger than our old location," says Cadmus, 41, who partnered with Naked Oyster owner Traci Porter to open the Clearwater Market and Restaurant. The Naked Oyster had only two tables; Clearwater has seating for up to 25 people, including a large raised table next to the market section of the restaurant.
"This is called a chef's table," he says of a giant rectangle tabletop with seats on either side. "You can reserve it and the chef will serve you himself."
The chef's table sits alongside a flat screen TV that shows the Food Network and episodes of "Deadliest Catch."
The alterations are not meant to change what The Naked Oyster provided its customers, but to embellish it.
"It's a new image, we've upscaled the dining," Cadmus says.
Mostly the old location was a seafood market; the new place hopes to maintain the same client base, as well as entice customers to stick around and enjoy the mouth-watering masterpieces of chef Brandon Comer, 33.
Comer, who previously worked at One Block West and Village Square, in Winchester, and the River'd Inn in Woodstock, joined the crew at Clearwater in April.
After the location on Piccadilly Street became available last summer, Cadmus says the Naked Oyster closed its doors to prepare for the move and name change this spring.
The restaurant opened on April 19.
So far, it's been a success, Comer says.
"It's growing every day," he says.
Cadmus and Comer, alongside Porter, hope to exceed expectations in the valley.
"It's so hard to get fresh seafood in the Shenandoah Valley," Cadmus says.
In fact, he doesn't.
Cadmus travels twice a week to the Chesapeake area and handpicks seafood from a fishmonger to prepare and sell at the market.
The display case carries grouper, red snapper, sushi-grade tuna, Atlantic wild salmon, crawfish, frog legs, mahi mahi, cod, halibut, swordfish, bluepoint oysters, clams, squid, scallops, muscles and Maryland crabs, to name a few.
"We order a la carte for people that want a specific fish," Cadmus says.
Though the market is how people will remember it from the former location, Comer hopes his entrees will be the garnish for an already satiated clientele.
"Educating the guests that come in here about the seafood and how we get it" is something he looks forward to accomplishing.
"We want to meet everybody's needs in the community," Cadmus says. "The restaurant is really a showcase for our market."
If by showcase he means pan-seared cod wrapped in pancetta and topped with a strawberry-tomato salad, then customers will encounter a feast for the eyes.
The pan-seared cod, which was a special on a recent day at Clearwater, will be part of a rotating menu, but other dishes will be mainstays, Comer says.
Shrimp and white cheddar grits sautéed in bacon with butter sauce topping is already a big hit, he says.
Sunday brunch also will offer possibilities like a poached egg over a crabcake, which Comer describes as Eggs Benedict, without the English muffin.
Cinnamon yogurt with berries or a mimosa brunch are other ideas Comer has, once the restaurant obtains its ABC license.
"We're adding a beer and wine license that's on and off location," Cadmus says.
Prices of meals range from $25 to $50 per person, he says.
"It'll change every week. It won't be the same thing," Comer says of the specials.
What customers can expect, though, is creative dishes, attention to detail and options to suit all palates.
There are "a lot of connoisseurs here," Cadmus says. "They have to travel 100 miles to get to a good seafood [restaurant.]" He wants to make it worth their while.
"We do do delivery too, with a $25 minimum," Cadmus says.
A third-generation Winchester resident, he hopes the restaurant will complement the area's growing and changing tastes.