It was in 2011 that Ferhat Yalçin opened Fishnet in College Park in hopes of exposing Marylanders to the street food experience of his native Turkey. The staple of this culinary culture is the fish sandwich, typically grilled and served with a choice of sauces. Through the years, Fishnet’s menu centered around this foundation and blossomed into offering more mains, appetizers, salads, and desserts. Thanks to the popularity of his original restaurant, chef Yalçin recently opened a sister spot at Mount Vernon Marketplace.
The food stall format invites a streamlined approach for Fishnet, and absent are many of the main courses and salads on offer in College Park. Fishnet Baltimore focuses on what made the first location successful—fish sandwiches, as well as a few other sea-centric specialties. On our visit, there was plenty of high-top seating available for our crew to settle in and decide what to eat. It was hot that day, and the first priority was a round of refreshing fresh-squeezed lemonade. Once our thirst was slaked, it was time to tame our appetites.
We began with an order of crab dip and Tots N’ Tentacles.The dip was generously crabby, held together by enough filler, which enabled us to really pile it on the house-made corn chips. Rich and flavorful, it was an instant hit and disappeared in minutes. Tots N’ Tentacles was a ragtag mix of fried calamari, fries, and fried fish morsels served in a basket. The calamari went first, and we made swift work of the accompanying house-made Old Bay mayo, which packed plenty of that seafood spice goodness in a deliciously tangy dip. The grilled salmon sandwich was an exercise in simplicity, served on a sesame-seed bun with lettuce and tomato. You get to choose your sauce, and we couldn’t help but return to the Old Bay mayo.
Our order of fish and chips was exemplary and exactly as it should be prepared: a flaky, light, crispy piece of catfish, but not soaked in cooking fat. A Baja fish wrap was satisfyingly piquant, and the garlic cream sauce gave it a savory twist. Our avocado salad was slightly less successful only because the avocado could have used another couple of days to ripen. We can’t fault the generous amount of it, nor the size of this salad. Moreover, the dressing was a zingy combination of lime juice and olive oil, providing an electric lift to the greens and imparting a lightness that would have been drowned by a creamy dressing. There was just one dessert available on our visit, a Nutella mousse. After a few spoonfuls, we had to get out before we ordered another, and another.
We are glad to see Fishnet come to Baltimore, and its street food aesthetic is a perfect fit for Mount Vernon Marketplace. If it works there, we’d love to see a sit-down restaurant, akin to the one in College Park, migrate to our city, too.
FISHNET 520 Park Ave., 443-869-6399. HOURS: Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. PRICES: Appetizers: $9-12; entrees: $9-14; desserts: $4-6. AMBIANCE: Nautical.