Thursday, Jul 18, 2019
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Exploring ‘jewels’ of the sea

If you’re going to dine at a restaurant named Fish, then it just makes sense to indulge in the “jewels” that have been brought up from the depths of the ocean. During a recent dinner at Fish by Chef Jose Andres, which just happened to take place during the month of the one-year anniversary of the restaurant’s opening at The Cove, at the Atlantis, I went in with the intention that whatever I ordered would revolve around seafood – with absolutely no deviations – because of course there are offerings to satisfy every palate

Choices! Choices! Choices! And you certainly do have choices.

Perusing the menu, there were items that caught my attention, but I’m always open to staff suggestions, because in most instances they can steer you towards a dish that you may not have considered, and that just may surprise you in a good way.

Case-in-point, restaurant Assistant Manager Troy Outten noted that in the restaurant’s concept dishes are meant to be shared, and they are brought to the table as they come up in the kitchen and not in the traditional service style – which was good to know and helped me in ordering. He also likes to suggest that people order between eight to nine items and share.

Server Natasha Hepburn proved to be just as helpful and a good person to bounce ideas off when trying to decide between two offerings.

Both Troy and Natasha said no local visiting the restaurant should leave without having the fritters with liquid center, Chef Andres’ take on the conch fritter which turned out to be just as the description said – liquid in the center, but with all the flavor of a regular fritter.

Now ordinarily shrimp n’ grits isn’t an item that I would ever look to order, but Troy strongly suggested that I didn’t pass on this opportunity. He said it’s a must-have. I went with it and it’s a decision I don’t regret. This regional American Southern fare was seasoned with just the right hint of Cajun spice that is satisfying to anyone who loves a kick; but at the same time the creamy grits and sweet shrimp, combined with bell peppers and pearl onions, was surprisingly ethereal and comforting.

It’s going to be difficult not to order the shrimp and grits on future visits. It was that good! If you’re making plans to visit Fish, get the shrimp and grits.

Now if there is one “fruit of the sea” that I can never pass up when they’re on a menu – it’s oysters. And of course, at Fish, they serve up these bivalves three ways: on the half shell with three sauces – cocktail, zinfandel vinegar and hot sauce; as well as fried with an Old Bay aioli; and smoked with an apple mignonette.

Decision! Decisions! Decisions!

It was a given that I would order oysters on the half shell, but instead of a dozen, I opted for a half dozen so that I would be able to indulge in a Fish version of either the fried oysters or the smoked. After much debate with Natasha, who is partial to the smoked oysters, I went with my first choice which I had been leaning towards – fried.

The oysters on the half shell didn’t disappoint. As I expected, they were plump and deliciously briny. I topped them with a drizzle of the zinfandel vinegar, and I was in heaven. They were pure indulgence and a delight. You either love oysters, or you hate them. I love oysters!

The fried oysters proved to be a guilty pleasure. They were coated with a crisp yet delicate batter which encased the tender, meaty pearl of the sea, but added up to a delicious bite.

Keeping on the trend of all things from under the sea, the deeply flavored lobster bisque was balanced out with crème fraiche and topped with butter croutons for a hint of crunch.

Lobster bisque with crème fraiche and butter croutons.

Fish’s menu showcases the Bahamian spiny lobster (which was replaced with the Maine lobster during my visit, due to the closure of the local lobster season) that can be prepared a number of ways – in an Asopao rice stew (a Puerto Rican soupy rice stew); whole grilled with a lemon-dijon mustard dressing; fried with tartar sauce; on ice with a rum calypso sauce and dijonnaise; or in a salad with gem lettuce, citrus and creamy sesame dressing. It was no hardship at all in opting for the whole grilled Maine lobster with the lemon-dijon mustard dressing because Maine lobster is sweet and buttery and one of the best bites you will ever have. I was not disappointed, except Troy advised me that I had to return when the local lobster season is open and the local catch on the menu, because he doesn’t believe there’s a taste that can rival the Bahamian spiny lobster coming off the grill.

Whether it’s the Maine lobster or the Bahamian spiny lobster, it’s a stellar presentation. And the taste is incomparable. I rounded out the lobster with roasted broccoli with a Caesar dressing and butter croutons per Natasha’s suggestion. And once again, I was steered in the right direction. It was the one deviation from my seafood explorations, because you have to have vegetables.

One other option that I wanted to explore was the lionfish, which is based on availability, fried whole and served with tartar sauce. Like the spiny lobster, the restaurant was out of the lionfish as their purveyors hadn’t caught and brought any in, so they didn’t have any on offer during my visit. If you’re dining at Fish and they happen to have lionfish in the restaurant, this is an item I’m told you don’t want to pass over. (This is another reason why I have to make a return visit.)

Now one aspect of the menu I was certain wouldn’t showcase any seafood was dessert, but the deconstructed key lime pie… even if you’re not a fan of key lime pie itself, this key lime pie dessert at Fish – key lime cream, graham cracker crumble, toasted meringue, berry coulis and lime air – will make you a fan of the dessert; and for those that may just want a little fruit to end their meal, the Josper grilled pineapple – grilled pineapple with a pineapple gastrique (sauce) and tamarind sauce with a scoop of coconut sorbet – is a perfect ending that won’t leave you feeling guilty.

Josper grilled pineapple with pineapple gastrique, tamarind and coconut sorbet.
PHOTOS: SHAVAUGHN MOSS

Now while it seems I may have eaten a lot, there’s so much more to this menu that I haven’t even scratched and would love to get a crack at – the seafood sampler featuring king crab, mussels, shrimp cocktail, ceviche, conch salad and a half lobster tail – is right up my alley. The tuna tartare with an egg yolk, mustard sauce and anchovies with Parker House rolls is another tempting menu option. And if I’m going to stay true to seafood options, I understand the seared scallops with Hawaiian hearts of palm, tamarind, caperberries and citrus is a must, according to Troy; he says it’s one of those presentations that will bowl you over.

To satisfy meat lovers, a rib eye and striploin, both dry aged 21 days, are offered, as well as jerk chicken, and a skirt steak from the legendary black-foot Iberico pigs from Spain, served with mojo verde and roasted peppers.

Shavaughn Moss

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.
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