A taste of the ocean in port chester
What a find: great fun, good food, but a MapQuest must!
Half a mile away from F.I.S.H., driving first by dilapidated housing and then through an industrial area, you may think you’ve made a wrong turn. But then you arrive at a cheerful yellow stucco building illuminated by a ring of tiki torches—and a pleasurable evening of fun and good food begins.
With an exuberantly whimsical style, F.I.S.H. (for Fox Island Seafood House) carries the theme of the sea throughout the restaurant and even to the servers’ T-shirts emblazoned with the house motto, “Eat Fish. Love Longer.” But don’t misunderstand—the restaurant may be fun and playful on the surface but underneath is a serious kitchen.
Don’t take the menu too literally. Dishes may come to you slightly different from the written description, but go with the flow. Seared rare tuna “mignon” au poivre had the clean, clear taste of sashimi grade fish, even if the sweetbreads with which it was supposed to be served not on the plate. No matter, the plate was perfectly composed and balanced without the sweetbreads: creamy mashed potatoes (not chive, as listed) were an ideal counterpoint to the mildly bitter broccoli rabe, sweet red wine sauce and thin onion crisps.
Pay attention to the wonderful accompaniments on the plates. One night’s special of “rice crispy and za’atar crusted halibut” was served with a heady, aromatic chickpea fattoush: the earthy flavors of the Middle Eastern spice za’atar and the subtle curry in the chickpea salad grew more seductive when played against the drizzle of tart pomegranate sauce.
Chef and part owner Bill Rosenberg, who grew up and still lives in Port Chester, pays attention to the interplay of textures and flavors, as is evident with the starter of crab cakes as well. The cakes are made with no filler, just claw meat, which the chef says “is the sweetest, most flavorful part.” The cakes are dusted with panko, sautÃ©ed until golden and sauced with a mustard aioli. The crunchy celery-root salad was dressed with restraint in a classic creamy rÃ©moulade that allowed the crisp texture and celeriac flavor to counter the crab cakes.
A similar respect for the inherent characteristics of ingredients was evident in a special of fresh cured anchovies. The meaty whole fillets are cured in-house for several days in salted lemon
vinaigrette to play up the natural rich, oily flavor of the fish. At F.I.S.H., the Mediterranean-inspired preparation is served atop a bed of organic greens.
The scattered and forgetful service has a way to go to catch up with the quality of the ingredients and the preparations, but the food and ambience prevail over service lapses. I didn’t mind a half-empty water glass when I had a forkful of Vicky’s Secret Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding in my mouth. While the service issues should be addressed, in the end, top quality ingredients prepared in thoughtful, interesting and accessible ways and served in a lively, warm and pleasant atmosphere, make this a restaurant well worth the hunt.
102 Fox Island Road, Port Chester
Lunch, Wed. to Sun. 11:30 am-3 pm
inner, Mon. to Wed. and Sun. 5:30-10 pm, Thurs. to Sat. 5:30-11 pm