Fish Review: A Sea of Change

Mike Stollenwerk’s second seafood restaurant holds onto that neighborhood vibe

The entrée section of the menu is dominated, as you would expect, by fish dishes. Old regulars will be happy to find the familiar meaty skate wing paired with truffle-infused spaetzle and leeks in a creamy parmesan broth. And the considered creativity that is the chef’s trademark remains in full flower. He reinterprets classic clams and linguine with an inspired bowl of clam broth, tender wild clams and orzo, topped with fresh chilies, slivers of preserved lemon, celery leaves, and a perfectly cooked portion of crispy-skinned striped bass.

There are a few misses: A flavorful mélange of brussels sprouts, oyster mushrooms and bacon in a mustard-kissed sauce is wasted on a flavorless hunk of farm-raised salmon. The plump scallops paired with mushrooms and creamy truffled sauce are well–executed, but absent the inspiration present in so many other dishes. And the lone steak dish, a concession to the inevitable seafood-phobic diner, reveals in its lackluster flavor the chef’s apathy toward meat.

Stick to dishes that sound a little quirky; look for combinations like beets and chicken skin. The chef elevates the usually boring beet salad with the addition of crouton-like bits of fried chicken skin, the salty crunch adding depth of flavor and a titillating textural contrast. The idea for the dish came to the chef over a quick dinner he made at home for his wife, another little culinary coincidence that resulted in a memorable menu addition.

From the confines of Little Fish, Stollenwerk became a pretty big star. Part of that restaurant’s appeal, though, lies in its claustrophobic intimacy; it’s a marvel what the chef can pull off in so small a space. At Fish, a full-size and full-scale Center City restaurant, Stollenwerk will need to grow along with the wine–augmented check averages and diners’ swelling expectations. Service, though friendly, is painfully slow and uninformed, and needs some polish to meet the standard set by the food. But even if Fish needs to work out a few kinks, its 33-year-old chef-owner clearly has the talent needed to make his restaurant the city’s go-to seafood spot.

1 2 < PreviousView as One Page

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • ann

    I am a huge fan of this restaurant. I am happy they got a well deserved review. I have been a customer since the opening week, I feel that they made some great changes to the menu since then. The one thing I noticed was that they removed the steak from the menu, but I know you can get with advanced notice(had to do that for a friend)_I would highly recommend this restaurant. Either for some wine and oysters or a full dinner. And am so happy it joined our area.

  • jack

    Great place, Awesome food

  • Rachael

    I just found fish Restaurant a few weeks ago! And it has already become my new favorite place to eat!
    I can’t decide which fish I like better – the Escolar or Skate Wing, or maybe the Monkfish! And I always get a side of brussel leaves!! Don’t forget the desserts are worth leaving room for !
    This is definitely a go to spot!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve eaten at Fish several times and never had a disappointing experience. The wine selection was above my expectations and I really enjoyed their pisco sour. You haven’t LIVED until you’ve tried their skate and scallops dishes. The cooking staff is as good looking as the plating! This place is a winner!

  • rachel

    I recently went back to fish. And must say it was again the best! The best! Had very room left for dessert, but had to squeeze some in. The chocolate torte with pretzel crust is the bomb! The restaurant is upscale cas, but I would go in my pj’s for dessert !