Fish, 1234 Locust St., has gone upstream, occupying the space formerly known as Q Lounge. And, judging from the results, we don’t think too many people will miss the bar and occasional nosh that the old place contributed to the Gayborhood’s nightly routine.
At first glance, the interior transformation the place has undergone is far more aesthetically pleasing, taking on a more sophisticated restaurant vibe than the room had before. Nevertheless, it’s still a nice place to spend a happy hour.
The cocktails we sampled were superb. The Electrified Fence ($13) is aptly named, as it gives the tongue a spicy Tasering that lingers long after every sip. You’ll taste rye, apple juice, ginger beer and lemon verbena honey syrup.
Fish’s raw bar and chilled course selection were jaw-droppingly good. The shrimp ($8) were perfection and the piquillo pepper relish they rested on needs to be jarred and sold everywhere. The king crab was equally addictive, with an excellent poached-egg vinaigrette and chile cornbread ($13). The crudo of hiramasa ($10) was very solid with a mix of strong flavors.
Even Fish’s snacks are a delight. The skate chips ($5) are the seafaring cousins of pork rinds — crispy and salty and destined to be on the wish list for our next Super Bowl party.
Fish’s chowder ($12) damn near ruined us for anyone else’s seafood chowder. The creamy soup wasn’t overpowering, allowing the veggies to remain crunchy and fresh and the flavors of the clams especially bright and unmuted.
If Fish has a flaw, it’s that the chilled dishes and the appetizers — as well as the desserts — are so stellar, they steal the thunder from the entrées, which are nonetheless well done.
The second-course dishes like the blue bay mussels ($11) and the char-grilled octopus ($14) were a cut above similar dishes offered in other upscale seafood restaurants. Second-course main dishes like the cobia ($26) with Brussels sprouts and lamb sausage, as well as the monkfish with puffed couscous ($27), were perfect in their execution and conceptualization, but didn’t have the same wow factor as the dishes that preceded them.
We’re splitting hairs here, and if that’s the biggest flaw that a restaurant has, then it’s still working at a level a few cuts above the competition.
Things got ultra-exciting again for dessert ($9 each). The bombolini, a lust-worthy beignet, gets an added boost with a grapefruit sorbet, a pleasant diversion from the usual chocolate and caramel accompaniments.
The PB&J was another pleasant surprise, having all the flavors of its namesake but presented cold and creamy with Greek yogurt and spiced bread swimming in a grape reduction.
Fish in its new digs is a prize catch.
Larry Nichols can be reached at email@example.com.