Fish Market is tops in my bookBottom Highlights, Dining Thursday, February 16th, 2012
I have often said that San Diego has a great shortage of restaurants that are actually “on the water.” We do have some, and very good ones, especially in La Jolla, but one really stands out among all the rest and it is located in the very often missed Marina area.
Nestled right next to the historic USS Midway, The Fish Market is one of my favorite places in all of San Diego. It was one of the first places my great friend took me to when I first moved here and I have been in love with it ever since. To me, nowhere is more San Diego than The Fish Market.
The Fish Market offers two different dining experiences. You can chose from the casual downstairs for a mixture of oysters, sushi and fresh filets prepared any way you like and for something a little more composed you can head on up the stairs to the Top of the Market. Executive Chef Michael McDonald prepares a menu that is, in my opinion, the best seafood menu in town. The Seafood Bar offerings ($12.95-$15.95) are astounding, with prawns as big as my fist and a variety of oysters so fresh, you actually can taste the difference.
His creative use of seafood is apparent all over the menu. I love it when chefs mix different proteins with fish. One of the best examples of this is the Seared Sea Scallop ($13.75) appetizer. Large scallops with just the right amount of caramelization come together with crispy sweetbreads. The marriage is brilliant as is the pomegranate port wine syrup.
A lot of time chefs and restaurants can skip over the salad and soup sections, leaving them basic and boring. Not here; Chef McDonald makes the best Clam Chowder ($5.95) in town. Bold statement I know, but it can rival any chowder from Boston, and each time I have it, it brings me right back to my days there.
The entrées float between mesquite grilled and specialties and both sections do not disappoint. Although the salmon is delicious, skip it and try one of the other beautifully prepared dishes. The Pacific Swordfish ($34.95) is a knock-out. A thick steak of fish is beautifully matched with braised short ribs and Brussels sprouts. This was a combination I didn’t see coming, and I’m glad I didn’t duck. The horseradish herb spatzel just ties it all together and soaks up the rich red wine sauce.
Ono has to be one of my all-time favorite fish, and I love that I can get it here. Pacific Ono ($34.50) is cooked to a perfect medium rare and done with some Asian flair. Cha-soba noodles and a mixture of chow mein vegetables are blended with a tangy Thai chili sauce.
One of the most common fish you will find in any restaurant is striped bass. One thing I can probably guarantee is that you won’t find it prepared like this. White truffle oil, kabocha squash risotto and Italian mascarpone all come together in this very rich dish.
If great seafood is not your thing, you can choose one of the many non-fish dishes. Chef McDonald does a great rack of lamb; steaks here are all grilled to the perfect temperatures, and there is even a pasta dish. Varieties are endless but this is a true seafood restaurant, and any seafood lover will be in heaven.
The one drawback to this place, if there is one, is that it can often be loaded with tourists. It is a bit of a trap for them and why wouldn’t it be. The view and food just can’t be beat here and this place is true San Diego.
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