Executive chef Orlando Amaro is serving up some surprises at Station 4 along Washington, D.C.’s, southwest waterfront, quietly establishing the restaurant as a destination for elegant and elevated dishes. If you thought Station 4 was merely a way-station for some pre- or post- Nationals game beers or bar bites (and sure, it does serve that role too), then it’s time to change those expectations, grab a table for dinner, and explore the rest of the menu.

You certainly wouldn’t find blood sausage topped with seared quail eggs and sweet paprika at many other restaurants merely catering to the baseball game crowd. Dishes like this though are where the Venezuelan-born Amaro and his menu shine the most, showcasing his roots as well as Spanish influences from time spent working under Chef Ferran Adria at El Bulli.

He also showcases the wares from his small on-site patio garden, with which he grows fresh herbs and vegetables. Take a sip of their spicy margarita and the freshly grown jalapeno jumps out at you with its bite, while fresh basil may be used to highlight a burrata and compressed watermelon salad.

A must-have menu highlight when available is the salt-crusted whole Branzino, the entire fish baked in a rock-solid salt and egg casing, building flavor and trapping all the juices in. The casing is cracked away by hand and the fish itself is served over a bed of Catalonian spinach. Incredibly fresh, flavorful and moist. Amaro lets the fish speak for itself, seasoning it deceptively simply, trusting in quality ingredients and the technique to impart its rich and robust flavors.

The rest of the menu is seafood heavy as well, with entrees and starters featuring mussels, scallops, crab cakes, seared ahi tuna and octopus. If you’re in the mood for turf more than surf, other entrees range from miso-soy glazed chicken thighs to seared gnocchi served with sweat pea sauce and prosciutto, or crispy pork shank served with compressed apples.

Yes, at the bar you can find your burgers and pizza, and your fries and wings. Even here, though, Amaro goes further, offering duck fat fries, and his house specialty Station 4 pizza, made with pork belly, bleu cheese, caramelized onions, a fig-balsamic reduction and tomato salsa.  You can get that pre-game bucket of beers en route to Nationals Park, or you can enjoy carefully paired glasses of wine from a lengthy list.

If you’ve been to Station 4 but haven’t gotten past happy hour, or if you’ve strolled past without stopping in, then you’ve been missing out.

Station 4 also offers a pre-theatre dinner menu, paella nights every Wednesday with $15 carafes of sangria, and bottomless brunch on the weekends. The restaurant is located at 1101 4th St. SW, across the street from the Waterfront Metro station on the Green line. Find more information or make a reservation at their website, Station4DC.com.