Wednesday, February 19, 2014

FISH Restaurant and Wine Bar

As many of you know, I consider myself a part-time pescatarian. I love seafood, but I really only eat it when I know it's fresh and as local as possible. And at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, their seafood meets (and even exceeds) my expectations.

I know what you're thinking: Marlborough?? Why would I drive to Marlborough for a meal? But trust me when I tell you...this meal is worth the surprisingly short (and easy!) drive from Boston.

Originally called Coral Seafood, FISH Restaurant is serving up fresh, elegant, and thoughtfully prepared dishes and cocktails, with an impressive (and affordable) wine list to boot. And, despite the name, they don't only serve seafood dishes - there are several meat options (think Crispy Duck Breast, $25 and Braised Short Ribs, $26), as well as a few vegetarian options, too (like the Leek & Truffle Risotto, $20 and the Asian Noodle Stir-Fry, $18). For the carnivores, FISH's chicken is also organic and free-range...a hard thing to come by these days.

Our host for the evening was Ian Nal, FISH's General Manager and Beverage Director. Clearly passionate about the restaurant's cocktail program - and, being a gracious host - he immediately suggested I try a Purple Velvet ($10) upon my arrival. Made with Ketel One Citroen, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and hibiscus syrup, this was the ideal beverage to wash away my winter blues.

Purple Velvet cocktail at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

While I chatted with Richard and Ian over cocktails, I took in the sleek and intimate bar/lounge area, complete with a fireplace. Behind us was the more "formal" yet approachable dining area, with several high-backed, white booth seats and white tablecloths. The open kitchen graces the back wall of the restaurant, helping to make the entire space inviting and comfortable, yet still elegant.

Since one cocktail before dinner is never enough, Ian also had us try one of his upcoming spring cocktails: the Shy Geisha. FISH's menus change with the seasons, and the spring menu will be out before we know it (thank god...).

Shy Geisha cocktail at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Eventually, we headed to our table for dinner, which began with the Shellfish Sampler ($17). The sampler boasted three Plymouth Rock Bay oysters, three Cherrystone clams, and three Gulf shrimp.

Shellfish Sampler at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

The freshness of the seafood was evident in every single bite, and the zesty, accompanying cocktail sauce was ideally spicy (a red wine vinegar mignonette also accompanied the sampler). I'm a sucker for good, briny oysters, and these (along with Beat Hotel's) were some of the best I've had in a long, long time. 

I should mention at this point that Ian paired each of our dishes for the evening with sustainable and/or organic wines. FISH's wine list - and program as a whole - is really impressive, while being very approachable for a wine lover like me who always orders the same thing when I go out. Ian always makes recommendations for his guests, and prices range from $8-$15 per glass, although most glasses are in the $8-$10 range.

Wine at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

The next dish we tried was the Ahi Tuna Ceviche, topped with pickled jalapenos, avocado mousse, and blood orange vinaigrette. Like the Shellfish Sampler, the tuna was obviously fresh, and I loved the the combination of flavors with the spicy jalapeno and sweet avocado mousse. The citrus tang from the vinaigrette also complemented the fish nicely.

Ahi Tuna Ceviche at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

We also tried the Scallop Crudo, served with black garlic, fresh dill, watermelon ponzu, and cantaloupe "pearls." To be honest, this dish didn't wow me - which could be due to my aversion to too much fresh dill - but it was still presented beautifully.

Scallop Crudo at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Our next dish - the Grilled Octopus ($12) - did wow me, however. Served with roasted beet, radish, and Green Goddess dressing, this was the most tender and flavorful octopus I've ever put into my mouth. Chef Sasha St. Germain (originally from the Ukraine), braises this octopus for five hours, resulting in a super tender dish. Every bite was incredible.

Grilled Octopus at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

We also tried some Crispy Calamari ($10), which is normally something I never bother ordering at a restaurant. However, FISH's version is served with fried cherry peppers, a Miso aioli, and...wait for it...fried cantaloupe. The batter was delightfully light and non-greasy, and the spicy peppers mixed with the sweet cantaloupe and salty calamari was a divine combination of flavors.

Crispy Calamari at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Our first entree was the Grilled Swordfish ($22), which looked more like a pork chop than a piece of swordfish. The fish literally pulled apart with a simple touch of my fork - it was that delicate. The fish was also juicy and well-seasoned, and paired fantastically with the tender potatoes underneath.

Grilled Swordfish at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Next up were the Diver Scallops ($23), served atop a vibrant romesco sauce and roasted fingerling potatoes. The dish was then garnished with some bacon-shallot marmalade (that I politely scraped off) and some hazelnuts. The scallops were cooked and seasoned nicely, and I loved the silky, smoky sauce underneath. The crunchy hazelnuts also added a welcome texture to the dish.

Diver Scallops at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

Eventually, we got to dessert. I'm typically not a dessert person - unless the dessert in question is very, very good. Well, let's just say FISH's Chocolate Ganache a L'Orange ($8.50) did not disappoint. Served with a bright and refreshing citrus salad, as well as a dollop of lime, creamy ricotta, this was one decadent dessert...that was somehow also fairly light. The tuille garnishes also added a whimsical touch, as well as a necessary, crispy texture, to the dish. 

Chocolate Ganache a L'Orange at FISH Restaurant in Marlborough, MA | The Economical Eater

My omnivore dining companions also enjoyed FISH's Cinnamon Bacon Beignets ($8), served with maple caramel. Based off their reactions, I'd say this one is also worth trying.

All in all, I had a wonderful meal at FISH Restaurant. I really appreciate their dedication to sourcing fish and meat that is as seasonal, sustainable, and as local as possible. I also thoroughly appreciated Ian's honesty when we asked questions about where they source their fish and meat from. He wasn't trying to hide anything, which I always respect. 

To be honest, I never go to Marlborough - but I definitely plan to return to FISH Restaurant soon. The food, drinks, atmosphere, and staff just make it a very welcoming place that's worth the trip.

Do you have a favorite restaurant that is worth "traveling" to? I would drive to Portland, Maine any day for a meal (I have several favorite restaurants there!).

This meal was complimentary. As always, all opinions are my own.


  1. Please tell me in your part-time pescatarian adventures you have visited Eventide in Portland!!! If not, please put it at the top of your to-do list! Their brown butter lobster roll is amazing!

  2. This restaurant looks amazing! I just got back from vacation where I was absolutely spoiled with fresh seafood. The dining in bermuda is just unbelievable. But this place looks like a great runner up!

  3. I had hoped to go to this dinner but wasn't able to make it. Nice to know it's worth the drive! I would definitely do Portland or Portsmouth!