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[Rana Molana/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

If you're interested in exceptional seafood cuisine with a distinctive global feel, look no further than McCormick & Schmick.

The restaurant, set in the heart of Center City just a few steps away from City Hall, features an elaborate menu -- printed twice daily -- that boasts a list of fresh fish from around the world sure to satisfy any seafood lover. Its dishes, prepared under the direction of executive chef Ricky Kirsop, cover the full gamut from traditional favorites to more exotic delicacies.

One of more than 40 locations across the country, McCormick & Schmick's Philadelphia branch seems the perfect setting for such offerings -- the dining area, bustling with activity on a Friday evening, is accented by high ceilings and dark wood walls, creating a sense of elegance and setting the tone for a sophisticated, yet relaxed, dinner.

McCormick & Schmick 1 S. Broad Street (215) 568-6888 Fare: Seafood $14-$20 Featuring a wide variety of seafood, steak and pasta.

After being seated by manager Scott Thomas, my friend and I surveyed the restaurant's vast array of dishes. I selected my first course, a spinach salad with spiced pecans, fruit and Asian peanut dressing ($4.85), from a long list of tempting options. My friend chose a simpler house salad, which was topped with blue cheese dressing and glazed walnuts ($5.70). Both were extremely well-flavored, and I was very impressed by the presentation of my dish.

In addition, we sampled an appetizer of ahi tuna, served with seaweed salad and wasabi, both of which complemented it exceedingly well. The dish was sweet and visually appealing, and worked well as a transition between our salads and fish entrees.

Also featured on the menu were a number of other soups and salads ($2.80-$6.70) and appetizers ($6.70-$39.85) that ranged from steamed PEI black mussels with white wine, garlic and herbs to a chilled seafood combination platter. Several varieties of oysters were also offered.

To follow my salad, I chose the King salmon, which had a roasted gorgonzola dijon crust and was served with mashed potatoes and asparagus ($17.65). The choice is sure to please; the salmon was cooked perfectly and was topped with a strong, distinct flavor. My friend selected the Onaga Snapper ($20.85) -- which, according to the menu, hailed from the waters of Kalaupapa, Hawaii. Baked with Boursin cheese and lump crab, it was served with generous portions of wild rice and asparagus. Although it was topped with a cream sauce, it was light and very well prepared.

Other entrees ranged from a variety of seafood dishes -- including grilled mahi mahi ($18.60), tilapia ($16.95), swordfish ($19.65) and lobster ($19.95 per pound) -- to meat and poultry options such as grilled chicken with lemon thyme beurre blanc ($11.80) to filet mignon ($24.95).

Although you may have little room after a full meal, the dessert menu, which includes everything from traditional Irish coffee to brioche bread pudding and an upside-down apple torte, is not to be missed. At the recommendation of our server, we chose the vanilla bean creme brulee. Sweetly flavored and smooth, it was a perfect conclusion to the meal.

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