Well I am happy to report that after an unexpected yet lingering pain I am now Gallbladder free and recovering nicely. Now that I’m on the mend I can finally get back to that little thing called writing a blog.
Today’s post is overdue, mostly because a lot of my posts end up as drafts until I realize they were never finished, sent or relevant anymore (i.e. talking about Christmas Cookies in February). Sigh.
One evening after work I headed over to the UWS of Manhattan to relax and enjoy a Restaurant Week meal with some former coworkers. Always up for a night of karaoke or dinner at a new restaurant, I had an idea even before I saw the menu that they chose well in picking this seafood restaurant from chef Michael Psilakis.
Making my way down 79th Street I almost passed the unassuming front. Walking into Fishtag I was enveloped but a warm inviting space with intimate but casual tables and a long bar on the left.
Some will tell you that Restaurant Week menus are notoriously cheap, distasteful or not as good at the “real” menu. I’m not really sure who these people are; most likely the ones who are never pleased. Ever. I have yet to have a bad meal in the city, let alone a bad one during Restaurant Week.
Settling into my seat I looked over the menu, even though I was pretty set on what I was going to get. I like to read and analyze menus before I even get to the restaurant. What can I say? I get excited for a good meal!
First up was an appetizing plate of smoked fish. We each chose our fish and they were served family style. As I have mentioned before I am not a big fan of salmon so having an option of smoked tuna was right up my alley. I was stunned. Smoked, earthy, salty and not at all fishy. it was hands down the best smoked fish I have ever had. It was highlighted by grilled rustic bread that was crunchy and chewy just like good bread should be. The finishing component was a creamy spiced Greek yogurt that rounded out the course. I was enjoying it so much, it escaped me to photograph it.
As a starter I chose the Chopped Bulgur Salad. Smoked Almonds, Green Olives, Medjool Dates, and Pomegranate lovingly blended with veggies and bulgur to create a salad so flavorful and balanced it makes an ordinary salad bow its head in shame.
Now, one of the things that I love about the menu at Fishtag is that they offer their fish prepared both as the dish was created with amazing sauces and accoutrements or simply grilled and served with grilled asparagus, and an option of avocado tzatziki or tomato vinaigrette.
For my main course I chose a succulent Grilled Striped Bass. It was grilled to a medium-rare perfection with a nice crispy char on the skin that really intensified the clean flavor of the fish. It rested on a bed of broccoli rabe, which I adore having grown up on it as a kid. Sautéed with chilies and garlic I was back at my grandparents dining room on any given Sunday. The finishing touch was an oh so silky pool of Kabocha squash puree. I literally have no words it was that amazing. If I didn’t have manners I would have been licking my plate to get every drop of that sauce.
For me it’s the little things that make the dish. Any restaurant can finish a fish dish with a wedge of lemon but Fishtag takes that one step further and grills the lemon so it has mellowed and become extra juicy.
Rounding out an amazing meal was something a little special, baklava. If you haven’t had it before, baklava is a wonderful concoction of phyllo dough, honey and nuts lovingly layered and baked. The phyllo gets crispy and uber-flaky while the honey and nuts combine for a syrupy-sweet filling. At Fishtag, the baklava was elevated with the addition of dates and almonds and finished with a toasted almond gelato and drizzle of honey for some added love.
The meal was a true wonder and I’m still dreaming of that smoked tuna. And squash puree. Oh, heck! I’m still dreaming of that whole meal!
Enjoy and Happy Thursday!