Fish 101

>> Thursday, February 23, 2012

Date of Dining: 11/12/2011
Price: $10-$15
Location: 1458 N Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

The Quick Bit:
+ well-prepared fresh seafood
+ good variety of seafood dishes
+ "blue water" seafood model but in north county
Δ Could be more value for the price
Δ Dinner ambiance could have been more upbeat

Finding ourselves without our better halves on a cold, rainy November weekend, Gourmand's Review and I organized a little "blogger date" to check out Fish 101. Positioned as a pre-DDD (Diners Drive-ins, and Dives) Blue Water in North County, we decided that if the restaurant lived up to the billing, it would be a great little location to enjoy regularly.
I'm not sure if it was due to the rainy weather, but while I expected a relaxed and friendly beach dive, I found the ambiance to be a little more tense and strained. We decided to order a wide variety of dishes and share so we could get a good handle on the menu. Another aspect that seemed strange was that while the restaurant was mostly empty, we felt pretty rushed through much of the meal.
today's crudo "ceviche" - halibut, tomato, onion, micro-arugula, corn chips, avocado
We started the meal with the ceviche/crudo. All the ingredients were fresh and well prepared, but the preparation lacked some oomph when coming together. Instead of enjoying a ceviche, I felt more like I was eating salsa that included chunks of fish.
steamed clams - white wine, leeks, garlic, tarragon
While we wanted to order the steamed mussels, the delivery for the day seemed to be delayed and we had to settle for the steamed clams. While the clams were cooked well, the dish seemed to have a few flaws. The use of garlic in the sauce was a bit heavy-handed and resulted in an overly pungent broth that was also a bit on the salty side. Additionally for the $9 charged for the dish, I like I was eating gold as the price per clam seemed to be around the $0.80 range.
grilled yellowtail salad
Getting to the Blue Water type portion of the menu, the fresh fish selection of the day was the yellowtail. We chose to enjoy this as a salad to see what would be included. The fish grilled well and full of fresh flavor. The  salad on the other hand seemed a bit lazy as the lettuce was still in large chunks and the dressing was uneven. 
fried oyster po'boy - french roll, lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion, spicy aioli
Fortunately, we ordered a fried oyster po'boy that saved the day. This was the best dish of the night. The oysters were super fresh Carlsbad Luna oysters that were sweet, succulent, and fried to perfection. The pickled red onions added a nice freshness and acidic element to bring through the flavor of the seafood. Both Gourmand's Review and I also commented that of all the dishes ordered, we though the serving size of this dish was the best value.

While most of this review was largely negative, Fish 101 was not a horrible restaurant. If you brought down the prices of all the dishes about $2 to be in line with Blue Water prices, I would be singing praises. Unfortunately, Fish 101 seems slightly confused as to its place in the community - do they want to be the great value volume-based neighborhood dive or do they want to be more of a restaurant. The food would be great for a dive, but lacks some sophistication for being a full-fledged restaurant.
I recommend Fish 101 for that lunchtime seafood sandwich stop, but feel like the experience was a little out of place for a dinner experience.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
If any special treatment is provided to the blogger, full disclosure is presented at the beginning of the post.

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