Given its seafood focus and name, I suppose Rivage Atlantique - it's French for the shore of the Atlantic Ocean - aims to be like a day at the beach. And that's what dining at Rivage Atlantique resembles, if that day was spent watching waves break into the sand on a calm afternoon. Because, although there are a few highs and lows, mostly it's a steady good time.

Given its seafood focus and name, I suppose Rivage Atlantique - it's French for the shore of the Atlantic Ocean - aims to be like a day at the beach. And that's what dining at Rivage Atlantique resembles, if that day was spent watching waves break into the sand on a calm afternoon. Because, although there are a few highs and lows, mostly it's a steady good time.

Last August, Chef Colleen Pendergast assumed the Rivage helm after apprenticing as sous chef to longtime kitchen captain Rich Flagg. The seamless transition has resulted in more smooth sailing for the popular Worthington restaurant.

Two dining areas offer vastly different experiences. The upscale-casual main chamber traffics in earth tones, hanging fabric, stone and smooth jazz.

The smaller but more populated, more lively Back Room recalls a country club lounge. Tables and banquettes radiate around a rectangular bar, sports play on TVs and mainstream pop provides a subdued soundtrack.

Doted on by some of the friendliest bartenders in the area, everyone in the cozy Back Room seems to be cheerfully sipping wine (a passable selection) or beer (solid selection). If the former is calling, the Martin Codax albarino ($9 a glass) provides crisp, unoaked fruit and a good match for the many spice-accented seafood dishes.

You'll save $2 on that drink - or any other by-the-glass wine or beer - during the well-attended Back Room happy hour (4-7 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays). You can also score $5 happy hour food deals that will introduce you to Rivage's prevailing approach to daily specials: Use what's fresh in tried-and-true fashions.

Among the happy hour snacks I enjoyed were impressive little pizzas (pizzetta) with thin, handmade crusts; good fish tacos with zesty mayo, spicy pico and catch-of-the-day fish (such as mild, grilled cobia); steamed mussels in a boozy and garlicky tomato sauce with housemade fennel sausage; and three raw oysters from a rotating East Coast selection (the colossal Wiannos cost extra).

Moving to the main menu, two recommended salads stand out for colorful, deconstructed presentations: the Beet Salad (warm golden beets, mini cheeseball made with almonds and goat cheese, $9) and the Bibb Lettuce Wedge (ripe tomatoes, pungent blue cheese, not-crisp real bacon bits and zesty "Tabasco ranch" dressing, $8). If you're in the mood for soup, the velvety Lobster Bisque ($6) has a generous garnish of sweet claw and tail meat.

Two silver dollar-sized, golden-brown Lump Crabcakes ($13) plated with a bright corn salsa and swaths of hot sauce also featured good meat, just not enough. So if the big and delicious Panko Crusted Shrimp Appetizer special ($10) with spicy lime aioli and a little salad is available, get that, because it's the best fried shrimp dish I've had in a while.

Daily seafood specials are solid picks for entrees, too. They're generally available in "small plate" size, thoughtfully reducing dollar and stomach-space commitments. Among the simply prepared, fish-highlighting small plates I tried were perfectly grilled salmon with a smoky bacon and mushroom risotto plus underseasoned broccolini ($15) and expertly pan-seared Norwegian wolf fish (similar to cod) with great mashers and lackluster green beans ($15).

Heading back to land, the popular and huge St. Louis-style BBQ Ribs ($16 with sweet beans and an interesting, thick-cut blue cheese cole slaw) are meaty, fall-off-the-bone, thickly coated in tangy sauce and absent any smoke or "bark."

I had high hopes for the Cioppino ($26), but the shellfish stew with a light, spicy and oniony broth was undermined by sand. That low-wave effort was offset by the cresting wave of butter and cream in some of the best Shrimp and Grits in town ($19).