Wednesday, Mar 20, 2019
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Dive into the simple yet dramatic

Simplicity and drama — it almost seems like a misnomer — but these are the points that Chef Jose Andres hits at Fish by Jose Andres at The Cove. Things are done so simply that that the star ingredients aren’t masked, but allowed to shine. The high drama comes in with his presentations, case in point, his fried whole lionfish. The dramatics of this dish is simply amazing.

This two-starred Michelin chef’s innovativeness and creativity abound in his newest restaurant where you can either share small plates or opt for the style of larger-format dishes.

Chef Joses’ menu highlights the freshest possible seafood and incorporates local ingredients such as conch, served traditionally, or with a Jose twist, as conch fritters with a liquid center, much like Spanish croquetas.

He and his team also feature transformative takes on local favorites such as hog snapper grilled over a wood fire and served with a crisp endive salad, marcona almonds and radishes; and seared scallops with Hawaiian hearts of palm, tamarind, caper berries and citrus.

At a recent media dinner I had opportunity to partake in a number of dishes — cobia tiradito, tropical conch salad, rum sour oysters, the chilled lobster, mussels, conch fritters, crab cakes, shrimp and grits, lion fish, Nassau grouper, jerk chicken, baby carrots, brussel sprouts, key lime pie and the grilled pineapple.

And no, I did not consume 15 composed plates, the meal was served family style, so it involved tasting and moving on to the next dish.

My favorites, the cobia tiradito with passion fruit, leche de tigre (a citrus-based marinade that cures seafood) , avocado, red onion, corn and cilantro. Tiradito is the cousin to crudo, sashimi, and ceviche. It’s a raw seafood dish that can be executed with a wide variety of fresh catch. The seafood is prepared in wafer-thin slices and dressed cold with a light marinade. It was a super light and delicious way to start a stellar family-style meal.

Another favorite was the rum sour oyster with aged rum and sour orange. They were plump and fresh — and pulled directly out of the tanks at the restaurant.

I’ve never really been a fan of shrimp and grits, but had to take a taste of Chef Jose’s, made with Anson Mills grits, bell peppers, pearl onions and Cajun spices. While I won’t ever be the type of person to order shrimp and grits, the dish at Fish is creamy and delicious. And if I’m dining with someone in the future who happens to order the dish, I could be tempted to sneak a spoonful if they let me.

The Cape Cod mussels were another favorite, and cooked perfectly. I don’t think I’d ever had the meat of the mussel so tender as I did at Fish by Jose Andres. A crab cake lover, the offering at Fish was chockfull of enough Maryland crab to satisfy the crab lover in me.

And what can I say about those liquid center conch fritters, they are a must have. They look just like the fritters that we love, and the taste is the same, until you bite into one and are surprised by the liquid center, that makes the fritter arguably better than what we’re accustomed.

And that seriously impressive lionfish (based on availability as it is spearfished) served with tartar sauce was light, flaky, and cooked to perfection. It’s a fish that I’ve grown to love and happily eat to assist in ridding our waters of this invasive species, which outlives, out-eats and out-breeds all other species, hurting the health of our oceans.

If you’ve not had lionfish before, after eating Chef Jose’s deep-fried offering, it’s a fish you will seek out time and time again. I also like that a portion of proceeds from this dish goes to benefit The Atlantis Blue Project Foundation, an organization committed to marine conservation.

And who raves about vegetables? I do! Especially when they’re done right and aren’t over-cooked or over-sauced. Vegetables done right can sometimes be the best part of a meal. And the grilled baby carrots with roasted garlic yogurt and jerk seasoning; and Brussel sprouts with lemon pith puree, apricots and grapes, were sublime.

The perfect ending to the meal was the Key lime pie — which was unlike any Key lime pie I’d ever had. It wasn’t a pie at all, but had all the components — key lime cream, graham cracker crumble, toasted meringue, berry coulis and lime air — beautifully composed on a plate with citrus notes that made my taste buds sing. With sips of cappuccino to offset the dessert, it was the perfect ending to the meal. And of course I could not leave with a bite or two of the Josper grilled pineapple with pineapple gastrique, tamarind, and coconut sorbet. It too was amazing.

Fish’s open “fire stage” features two Josper ovens, whose high temperatures are harnassed by the chefs for dishes such as grilled oysters, their own fiery version of jerk chicken and many of the menu’s vegetable dishes, cooked to a smoky perfection. The Josper also lent a delicate caramel char to the grilled pineapple dessert.

While I didn’t get to order my meal, there are a number of offerings that I’m dying to get back to try, as the menu is super inviting.

To start or accompany their meal, guests can choose from handcrafted cocktails including A Bird in the Hand (Plantation Pineapple Rum, Appleton Estate Rare Blend Rum, Aperol and Carpano Forumla Antica Sweet Vermouth), and Apollo No. 2 (Elyx Vodka, St. Germain, Cocchi Americanco Blanc Vermouth, lemon, ginger and soda). The restaurant’s extensive wine list features wine produced in regions known for the world’s best seafood, throughout Europe and the United States.

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