After several weeks of enduring mediocre food, I am pleased to report I’ve found a spot worth visiting.
A few weeks ago, I received a brochure focusing on University City Dining Days. A number of restaurants were taking part including Grill Fish Café, a charming place in a bustling neighborhood.
Edward and I have never been to the area around 47th and Warrington. Although I lived at 42nd and Spruce during my graduate school days, I more-or-less stayed within a few blocks of my home. This multi-cultural area was a breath of fresh air. It is brimming with restaurants, groceries and independently-owned shops. On the night we dined at Grill Fish Café, the streets were filled with people of all ages delighting in a joyful carnival atmosphere.
Grill Fish Café is a moderately-priced restaurant with good-sized portions of tasty freshly prepared dishes served by a delightful staff.
One of its signature cocktails is a Bombay Sapphire martini ($9). Since University City Dining Days was in full swing, the restaurant offered three courses for $25. Our waiter told us the portions were the same size as the regular menu.
The garlic shrimp ($12) contained a bit of bite; were sautéed with onions, peppers, the right touch of chili peppers; and served in a spicy lemon sauce. There must have been at least eight of these beauties in the bowl. A large slice of good French bread was the perfect utensil for sopping up the tasty sauce.
Fried calamari ($10) has become so ubiquitous few restaurants prepare it well. This version did not disappoint. A large mound of fresh squid rings were lightly dusted with seasoned flour and flash-fried to a light, golden brown. A ramekin of spicy/sweet dipping sauce was the perfect foil for this delicious starter.
Since Grill Fish Café has Vietnamese touches, each guest is given the choice of flatware and black easy-to-hold plastic chopsticks. I noticed many of the patrons went the Asian route to enjoy their dinner.
Edward ordered the grilled salmon ($16) after much debate about the leg of lamb. There had to have been at least eight ounces of immaculately fresh center cut, thick fillet of salmon nestled atop a bed of sautéed garlic spinach. The fish was tasty, moist and meaty. It was one of the finest salmon entrées we’ve tasted in a long time. The sauce imparted an Asian twist since it was prepared with ginger, soy sauce and fragrant mint. A mound of perfectly steamed jasmine rice came with his dinner.
I went the French/Vietnamese route with mixed seafood ($18), which would have won approval in the South of France. The bowl was filled with bits of rich salmon, squid, mussels, shrimp and clams in a homemade broth spiked with sake. Each fish was perfectly cooked enhanced by the tasty soup that I enjoyed with an Asian porcelain spoon. A slice of French bread came with my dinner.
Wines by the glass were a bargain. We shared a glass of malbac ($7), which was filled to the top.
We ordered sautéed spinach and bok choy ($3 each) from the a la carte menu simply because we like our vegetables.
A slice of rich chocolate cake and a slice of lemon curd cake completed one of the tastiest meals I’ve enjoyed in weeks. To top it off, service is so pleasant and professional because our servers left us to our conversation while watching the table.
University City Dining Days ends tonight. Grill Fish Café is a restaurant I would frequent on any evening. It’s a gem of a place, with soft music, proper lighting and a carefully-planned bill of fare that delighted Edward and me.
Three tips of the toque to Grill Fish Café. SPR
814 S. 47th St.