after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

One Fish, Two Fish, Tile Fish, Coffee Cake …

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t says: g and I celebrated her bday with a trip to Little Fish.  Why Little Fish?  Well, we were looking for a place that was new to us and BYO.  Technically, we had gone to Little Fish once before, BUT, we hadn’t gone since it closed and re-opened in its new digs – so it was kind of like a new restaurant!!!  We also had a bottle of Illumination from Quintessa that we acquired during our visit to Napa – and what better way to make it the star of the evening than to have a bunch of fish!?  Finally, when we saw the pricepoint of the menu, we knew that Little Fish is a little expensive to make it just a random-weekend-dinner – at nearly $30 per entree, there needs to be a little something special worth eating for.

As you prepare yourself for the rest of this post, you can stare at yet another poorly-taken iPhone photo of our dessert and wonder if it was good or not!

"Chocolate crunch" ice cream atop coffee cake atop a puddle of banana-esque shmutz.

2/2010, Saturday 8:30pm, Party of 2. When we arrived the place was kind of small … and empty.  Only one table had guests, and another was clearly getting up to leave.  I think we were the first of a second wave of diners or something because they were definitely packed by the time we were halfway through our meal.  As usual, we were quite hungry (we like to make sure we don’t wuss out and get full after the appetizer when we go to restaurants) and wasted no time and got down to business.  The menu was written on a board that we turned our heads to stare at.  There’s got to be some way to put the menu in a more accessible place, but I guess not.  In any case, as we read each item, we couldn’t quite decide what to do.  Do we get two entrees and two apps?  Or do we go 3 apps and 1 entree?  So many things sounded good!  Then we decided … we’d go three entrees for two people and skip the apps entirely.  Genius.  This meant we got a “three course tasting menu” of sorts (and they split each dish into two plates for us – so we wouldn’t have to dribble sauces onto the table – that was quite nice of them!).  I let g choose two of the entrees, and I chose a third.

First course was “golden spot tilefish, shrimp and grits, tomato consomme, andouille”.  Holy bejesus this was awesome.  The tomato consomme was deep and flavorful – a beautiful harmony upon which the fish and andouille played a gorgeous melody (I think I used those terms right – maybe I got them backwards …).  The way the flavors played with eachother totally reminded me of the kind of flavor adventure that we got when we first ate at Talula’s Table.  I don’t know how they subdued the andouille (or amplified the tilefish), but one did not overtake the other – instead you got a beautiful fish and that savory/salty meat that worked so well together.  And the shrimp and grits were perfect – a worthy challenger for kp (a shrimp and grits showdown, kp?).

Next up was “striped bass with braised romaine, bagna caude, crouton”.  You know – it’s kind of weird, but for me the star of the dish was the braised romaine.  Yes, the fish was delightful, and the crouton and ?sauce?/?liquid? was amazing.  But that romaine … that romaine was awesome.  And I have a personal vendetta against romaine … soooo … my endorsement means something.  I don’t know how they got such flavor into the lettuce while having it keep some consistency, but they did, and I have thought about braising some romaine on my own … (haven’t gotten around to it yet).

The last course was the “sturgeon with pork belly, gigande beans, spinach, mustard”.  I was psyched.  Fish and pork belly.  Bring it on.  It arrived and it looked and smelled delicious.  I was even more psyched.  And then I tasted it.  And you know what, I was a little disappointed.  The dish was rather one-note, with the mustard taking over and masking everything.  Don’t get me wrong – I like mustard – but I couldn’t get a whole lot more than it, which kind of bummed me out.  The texture of the fish and pork belly suggested that they were both executed well – and tasting them on their revealed … surprise … fish and pork belly.  But the one thing that was supposed to bring them together kind of trumped them both.  It wasn’t a “bad” dish, but after the first two, it was kind of a let-down.  Especially because this one was my choice – just goes to show you that my wife is a good picker (after all, she did pick me, right?).

And finally … the dessert.  I let g choose the dessert (she gets a lot of power on her birthday).  She asked for the coffee cake.  To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled.  Coffee cake?  I mean, come on.  On what planet is coffee cake an acceptable dessert at a restaurant … after eating fish and fine wine?  Interestingly, neither g nor I even drink coffee, either!  But, her birthday, her choice … She totally made me eat my thoughts.  That dessert, which we showed you a crappy picture of above, was frickin’ delicious.  The chocolate ice cream brought some sweat creaminess (?and I guess some crunch – but there wasn’t that much), and that coffee cake was perfect.  And then there was the banana shmutz.  It was like someone made some bananas foster and then blended it smooth.  It was ridiculous.  If they put it in a jar and charged $8 a piece a-la-Barbuzzo, I’d buy a dozen and take them home to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  And then I realized that this was the best dessert I’ve had at a Philly restaurant.  Better than Zahav.  Better than Barbuzzo.  I kind of want to try it again just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke …

So, the overall picture …  The food is quite good at Little Fish.  However, the prices are a little on the steep side, approaching $30 per entree.  While in my personal price-point, the first dish (i.e. the tile fish) was “worth” it, the second was more like a $25 dish, and the last was more of a $20 dish (in terms of flavor – I realize that as soon as you put pork belly on something, you’re allowed to charge $5 more for it).  I think g and I will keep the place in mind for special (e.g. Birthdays, holidays) and semi-special (e.g. V-day) events … or just when we need to show some fish-fanatic friends of ours a good time …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

13 March 2011 at 11:32pm

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