little fish dominates summer sundays
t says: So I had to work the night shift for a week. I have to say that it was the weirdest experience because to me, it felt like one extremely long day with some short naps interspersed throughout (i.e. I’d wake up and there’d be light outside, and I’d go to sleep and there’d be light outside). I did well on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. Friday night was the hardest – I just couldn’t keep up my usual enthusiasm and focus. But Saturday … Saturday I was gung-ho. Why, you might ask? Because Saturday night shift meant that I was going to leave work on Sunday morning … and Sunday was date night! To celebrate, g and I went to Little Fish, one of our favorite places to go for seafood. Armed with a chilled bottle of Alexana Riesling we had picked up from Oregon, we hopped into a cab and rode off to 6th and South-ish …
July 2012, Sunday Dinner, Party of 2. Oh Little Fish. Your restaurant is so cute and quaint. It’s not quite Bibou-small, but it’s pretty darn small. And it’s relaxed, too. The servers donned their tattoos and strutted about with an air of “home” (and they were on top of their shiznit, too!) – it’s just what I needed to make me feel at ease after the week. I glanced at the menu (i.e. the chalkboard on the farm wall) and prepared myself for the series of dishes. OH – I forgot to mention – when you go to Little Fish on Sundays, there’s only one option: a 5-course, $33 fixed price meal. If you don’t like it, then get out. They have two seatings – 5:30 and 8 (?or is it 8:30? I forget). Even if there was something on the menu that I didn’t particularly want to eat, I’m pretty sure I would have lacked the oomph to get out of my seat and seek out another last-minute Sunday dinner option. Fortunately, the menu looked pretty good:
And now, on to the food:
So we started with a pretty simple salad. On one hand, it was a simple as simple could be (arugala, tomato, cheese), but on the other, it was really the first green thing I had eaten in at least a week, if not longer – so for me, it was like a plate of some sort of exotic vegetable I had never seen. So yes, it was tasty (plus, arugula tends to have that pepperiness to it – so it is more exotic than romaine after all). Was it blow-your-face-off-good? No. But when’s the last time arugala+cheese+tomato blew your face off?
Now THIS dish, on the other hand, blew my face off. Seriously. I was not expecting it. I figured, “ok, well, they’re going to have to have some sort of raw fish preparation, and chances are that it’s going to be whatever leftover fish they had from the week (from what Kitchen Confidential has told me, Sunday fish in restaurants are suspect because no one delivers “fresh fish” on the weekends), so I set my expectations pretty low … but this was magic. It was sweet (watermelon), spicy (tamari), fresh/zippy (scallion), savory (brown sauce … soy?), and it was all perfectly balanced with the briney essence in raw fluke. Wonderful. As I sipped our Riesling (which was also wonderful), I remembered how Little Fish doesn’t screw around with namby-pamby flavors. Thank goodness.
This was the second dish to blow my face off (i.e. if I still had some remnants of a face after the first dish). So it started with a perfectly cooked scallop (an absolute requirement for any place trying to bill itself as seafood-centric). Check. Add a richly flavored corn-essenced gravy. Check. Toss in some mushrooms that were so good that even g ate them. Check. Add some green beans that were cooked-yet-crisp-yet-deeply-flavored as well as some cornbread croutons. Check. The result was this weird concoction were something as light as a scallop was made to feel so rich and earthy that it almost made me wonder what sort of mysterious grass-fed, hoofed beast these scallops must have come from. To borrow some language from some of my favorite people [of which to poke fun]: amaze!
But alas … the meal wasn’t perfect – but not because chef failed at cookery – quite the opposite, actually Above you see a perfectly cooked piece of tuna … and nearly-perfectly cooked chickpeas (I prefer them a little softer) … and a perfect mix of cucumber/onion/some-kinda-sauce … but they were assembled in such a way that for the life of me I could not taste the tuna at all. GASP! Nooooooo! <Ok, I’ll stop being over-dramatic.> I think that after the previous two courses, this one came out the weakest – and it really had to do with the balance. Despite the size of that healthy slab of tuna – it just couldn’t lend enough flavor to compete with the quantity of sauce and other stuff on the plate; it got lost in the jumble. I’m sorry Little Fish. You were so close!
So, after we remembered out experiences with the coffee cake the last time we were here, g and I knew that we shouldn’t underestimate their dessert prowess. But unlike “coffee cake”, this dessert seemed like it was going to bring in a new twist: chocolate and beets. I was skeptical. Don’t mess with my chocolate by putting crap in it it doesn’t need (citrus, berries, and bacon are acceptable). I am glad to report that this dessert was awesome. Not – it wasn’t as sensational as the coffee cake, but it was a nice, filling dessert with moist chocolate cake (as moist and fluffy as a boxed cake, but not as sweet), with some creamy whipped topping (I forget what it was flavored with) and that beet sauce that turned out to be a wonderful accompaniment (kinda like how raspberry+chocolate works – this works in the same way – the beets came off as kinda-fruity, which was great!). So in the future I might flirt with chocolate+beets some more.
In the end, g and I had a superb meal. Sure, there were a few mis-steps, but when you consider consider how reasonably priced it was, it’s one helluva-deal! Our mouths were happy. Our stomachs were happy. Our wine was empty. It was a great night. Thanks Little Fish!