Monday, January 18, 2010

Fish

Jess' Take:
I love this restaurant. It’s intimate, but not cramped, our server was knowledgeable and obviously had a passion for food, and the food itself was simple and delicious. Not surprisingly, the menu included little else but seafood options. If you’re looking for chicken or steak they ask that you call 24-hours ahead to put in your request. The menu isn’t extensive, but it does include a wide variety of tastes and options for the seafood lover.

While the boys went for some tasty oysters – which I’m looking forward to enjoying again post-pregnancy – I ordered the South Shore wild little neck clams served with herbs in a shallot, white wine reduction. This was a delicious way to start the meal, the best part of which was to sop up the broth with the homemade bread (which our server gladly brought seconds and then thirds of for the table). The clams were delicate and flavorful. Really enjoyable all around.

For the second course I went for the red snapper, which was served with merguez sausage, fingerling, escarole and giant beans (I have no idea what the actual name of this type of bean is). The sausage intrigued me, which is the reason that I ended up ordering the dish, but in the end the flavor didn’t mesh with the dish as much as I would have liked. The sausage was too overpowering for the light fish. On the other hand, the beans and broth were an amazing compliment. I quickly got over my disappointment with the sausage and happily enjoyed the other accompaniments.


We went for two desserts – an apple cake with cinnamon ice cream and (of course) a flourless chocolate cake with port soaked cherries. The chocolate cake was almost too decadent (if that were actually possible). It encased our spoons and was impossible to get off without having to scrape your teeth across the spoon. The port soaked cherries were rich as well, which both complimented the chocolate and almost make it too much (again, if that were possible). Despite any negative comments, both plates were sopped clean. I believe actions speak louder than words here.
I hope to find myself back at Fish again sometime soon. The atmosphere was great, the food was fantastic, and, as always, the company endlessly enjoyable. 4 out of a possible 4 fishes.

Dave's Take:
Maybe it was my mood that afternoon; maybe it was the association with Little Fish - I had a bad experience. Who knows but I was very skeptical about Fish and was coming in ready to be very critical. Walking up to the place I noticed a chalkboard announcing a happy hour. As a rule of thumb, I like happy hours. I especially like them at upscale and cozy eateries. Although I did not partake in said happy hour, the fact that drink specials accompanied a $1 selection of oysters and a few other tasty tidbits were in a hip and cozy bar atmosphere got me feeling a little better about the place.

The dining room, although small, was comfortable and relaxing. The menu is solely concentrated on seafood and lacks any specials due to the fact that the menu changes constantly based on ingredient availability and the chef's inspiration. I started off with oysters. It's been a while since I have had a good selection and Fish was kind enough to procure some tasty varieties. In a sensitive effort to not fuel the East Cost v West Coast gang rivalry, they have a great selection from both coasts. Now, although I am firmly an East Coaster, I have to side with Westside crew on oysters. The Pacific Northwest's compact and creamy oysters paired with a dry vodka martini is about as good as it gets. The selection I tasted of Hama Hama, Fanny Bay and Hog Island were all excellent but I would say the Fanny Bay was the best. I tasted Jess's little necks and was impressed with them as well. The sweet, ocean flavor of the clams were enhanced by a subtle yet outstanding herb broth and resulted in an excellent starter. Wade's short rib ravioli's in a lobster sauce were good but nothing compared to my oysters or Jess's little necks.

As we went into the second course, my feelings were changing about the place. I was really enjoying myself and when my entree arrived it got even better. I ordered Suzuki which is a Japanese Seabass and one of my favorite fish. Raw or cooked, Suzuki is amazing and Fish's preparation was outstanding- served over orzo with clam, bacon, lemon and parsley, the combination was superb. The clams added the sweet fresh taste of the sea to the delicate fish and there was just enough bacon to add hints of earthy smokiness that complimented but did not overpower. The parsley and preserved lemon flavors hit the last few of my taste buds that the others hadn't. In short, it was really, really, really good. I only had a small taste of both Jess's & Wade's dinners as I was not too interested in sharing my winner dish. Both were good but did not compare. Jess's snapper had a spicier edge that was very nice. Wade's on the other had I was not a fan of. The Vitello Tonnato was raw tuna rolled in veal then cooked. The result was an interesting combination of meat and sushi. I give the chef an A for effort and creativity, but only a C for taste. It was good but a bit bland and the textures and tastes did not blend to create the synergy I'm sure they were hoping for. I would have been happier with veal and raw tuna on their own.

I am going to give Fish a 3.5 out of 4 bivalves. It was an extremely tasty and enjoyable experience but I could not give it a 4 out of 4 for two reasons. The first was no amuse buche. A tasty amuse would have been a great way to start the meal and the prices support a differentiating offering like that. The second reason is that Fish got a little ahead of itself on the wilder dishes that Wade ordered. The short rib raviolis did not fit the theme and showed. The Vitello Tonnato was certainly creative, but again, was flat compared to the other dishes where the chef concentrated on his core competencies.

I will certainly go back to Fish and am strategically planning the next time I can get to 17th & Lombard between 5-7 on a Mon-Thurs for that happy hour.

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