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Fish Story

Author: Julie Fadda
December, 2010 Issue

Fish Story
790 Main St.
Napa
(707) 251-5600
www.fishstorynapa.com
Seafood
Lunch and dinner daily;
brunch Sat.-Sun.
Entrées (dinner): $12.50-$39
Full bar, great wine list


And now for a story about fish (OK, I just wanted to say that): but if you’re a seafood lover, this is your place. If you’re not, there are plenty of other choices for you here.

Opened this fall by the Lark Creek Restaurant Group along Napa’s riverfront, Fish Story sources all its seafood according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guidelines, meaning everything is fresh, sustainable and in season. Chef Stephen Barber let his native Southern influence shine through when he started our meal with a crunchy, tasty bay shrimp hush puppy.

The full bar offers all sorts of cocktails, but when we saw Iron Horse’s Green Valley “Lark Creek Cuvée” (toasty nose, apples, crisp) on the wine list, we couldn’t resist.

The raw bar has shellfish, ceviche and more, including “towers” (the “Moby Dick” has Maine lobster, Dungeness crab, oysters, clams, shrimp and ceviche). We chose the ahi tuna tartare, which was extremely fresh and light with Asian pear, chilis, citrus, hazelnuts and a zesty avocado mousse, with peppered crackers and micro greens. Delicious.

The lobster and pumpkin bisque had fresh lobster and a nice balance of flavors (the pumpkin didn’t take over), with tiny chopped chives and crème fraîche. The chopped salad had romaine lettuce, chickpeas, fennel, baby carrots, avocado, Fuyu persimmon and Fuji apple with fresh herbs and shaved Midnight Moon goat cheese—a nice, multitextured mix.

The crab cake (superb) had a panko breaded, golden crust with pure meat and fresh herbs inside (each cake is 3 ounces; one is enough for two people as an appetizer). It came with a habañero tartar sauce with excellent heat and lightly dressed fresh greens. A floral, smooth 2009 Willakenzie Pinot Gris and a 2008 Patz & Hall Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay (crème brulée, fresh pear) transitioned us to our entrees.

The “simply prepared fish” section of the menu features a choice of fish, sauce and two sides. We chose the sautéed sand dabs (tender, easy to eat, skin and all) with the chef’s choice of a brown butter and pomegranate sauce (with whole seeds). Our sides were sautéed brussels sprouts with dried cranberries and orange zest (slightly sweet) and roasted cauliflower heavily spiced with harissa, golden raisins and pine nuts.

A second entrée of chili roasted Dungeness crab seasoned with garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne, parsley and butter was warm and sweet. (It was so good I wanted to lick the shells.) It sat on a bed of sticky rice, which soaked up all the wonderful flavors.

Our meal ended with two desserts: Lark Creek butterscotch pudding (creamy, dreamy) and a stand-out, decadent Valrhona chocolate bread pudding served with Makers Mark hard sauce and candied hazelnuts topped with chantilly cream.

I think I want all my fish stories to go just like this. Thanks also to our excellent server, Kimberly, for a wonderful time.

 

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