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Grill Fish Café

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 3 | Posted Jul. 26, 2012

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Grill Fish Café, a Vietnamese seafood restaurant, offers three-course meals for $25 through University City Dining Days, which ends tonight.

Photo by Kathryn Poole

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

Grill Fish Café

814 S. 47th St.
215-729-7011
grillfishcafe.com

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1. James said... on Jul 26, 2012 at 01:04PM

“Being a salmon lover, I had to try Grill Fish after reading this review. Unfortunately they were closed for lunch. Perhaps reviews here could say "dinner only" or specify the hours. Next door, however, was the Vietnam Café (the yellow building in photo above), which apparently has the same owner, along with the Vietnam Restaurant in Chinatown. The decor is very nice and modern and upscale. With modern bathrooms. It has a corner property and the dining area has large windows looking to the street and to the parking lot (shrouded by small trees). So it is light, the seating is comfortable, and there are many windowside tables with lots of space between tables. Authentic music was played at a low volume. They serve alcohol. I had chicken curry, which was fine. It was spicy and tasty but came with too much sauce. I'd prefer it in a serving dish with an empty plate so that I could place my rice against the chicken for easy mixing and scooping. The strands of chicken and red peppe”

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2. James said... on Jul 26, 2012 at 01:06PM

“(continued)
The strands of chicken and red peppers and onions were a bit too long. Bite-sized would make for easier eating, but instead I had to cut every piece in half. Entree prices were a bit high, especially for lunch. An extra $1 was added to my bill for a second cup of rice. (Really now…). A glass of chardonnay cost $7. Very attentive service. No green tea ice cream as listed on the menu, but vanilla was available. All in all a very pleasant, upscale, comfortable lunch with good views, service, and food. But save up: it was $32 for lunch, tax & tip included.”

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3. Phyllis Stein-Novack said... on Jul 26, 2012 at 02:36PM

“Dear James:

Thank you for your comments.

I have been to several restaurants which charge $3 for toast during breakfast and brunch so I know how you felt when you saw the $1 added to your bill for extra rice.

Also, and this irks me, free refils for coffee and iced tea. No free refills for hot tea or soda. I find this at many restaurants.”

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