Seafood Spectacular: Fish
Here are some special spots to get your fish fix.
SECTION 3: FISH
Whether it's Mediterranean bronzino from The Black Olive, pictured, local catfish, or Australian barramundi, fish is a fantastic and flavorful source of fuel for our bodies. Catch it while you can.
Whether we’re craving Chesapeake rockfish or Dover sole, sweet swimmers come in many forms on Maryland menus—from fried IN BATTER to grilled nearly naked with lemon and olive oil. Here are some special spots to get your fish fix.
The Black Olive
The formula is simple enough: Take a beautiful piece of fish, brush on olive oil combined with lemon, herbs, and sea salt, then grill it over a charcoal fire. That magic mating is what keeps us coming back to this white-washed Greek taverna, where the freshest specimens are delivered daily—among them whole dorade, bronzino, and a heavenly Dover sole—all expertly prepared (read: less is more) to show off their moist, sweet flesh. 814 S. Bond St., 410-276-7141
While some spots make a mockery of local or sustainable sourcing, the folks at Bluestone offer full transparency when it comes to their seafood selection. On a recent outing, our perky waitress eagerly ran through her server’s spiel, but the well-written menu told us all that we needed to know: Walleye is a menu highlight due to “phenomenal” fishing in the Great Lakes, the Chilean sea bass carries the official sustainable seafood stamp, and the Atlantic salmon has been raised “via aquaculture in efforts to enhance the population.” You can’t miss with any of the fish dishes here, but eating with a clear conscience only adds to our fish bliss. 11 W. Aylesbury Rd., Timonium, 410-561-1100
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
With its expansive lineup, à la carte offerings, and menu-add-ons (think pimp my fish) such as jumbo-lump crab imperial or blue-cheese butter and caramelized onions, this high-end Harbor East seafood chain has a big-steakhouse feel, which is no coincidence, given that the Landry’s restaurant group also owns Morton’s The Steakhouse. The novella-length menu includes a Alaska—though you might need to pick up some overtime hours to afford eating here. (A grilled piece of Florida yellowfin tuna served with crab Oscar, and without sides, for instance, sets you back $54.) Even so, if you want a splashy special-occasion spot recalling a 1940s ocean liner, this is definitely the place. 801 Aliceanna St., 443-872-0000
Dining out should feel different than the same old, same old of sitting at your own kitchen table, which is why we love the pomp and circumstance of a trip to the seafood display at this Greek-chic fish palace. Follow your server to the ice bed (more like a fish throne adorned in orchids and seaweed) and learn about the origin and flavor profiles of the products. Simply point to the Mediterranean sea bass, the wild-caught Dover sole, or the Hawaiian yellowtail, and when your charcoal-grilled fish arrives—lacquered in lemon oil, and capped with capers—know that this is what consistent excellence and hospitality are all about. 1000 Lancaster St., 443-708-5818
Wit & Wisdom
Executive chef Zack Mills knows that when fish is at its freshest—be it Chesapeake rockfish or trout from just down the Carolina coast—it needs little else than a spritz of citrus, a touch of salt, and a pinch of pepper. At this Michael Mina-owned spot, sweet swimmers get a kiss of butter, a coating of oil to crisp the skin, then are wood-grilled and served with a side of kushari, grilled lemon, and squid-ink tomato purée offering a briny salute to the sea. Bottom line? We’re hooked. 200 International Dr., 410-576-5800
Bluefish Baked with Tomatoes and Capers
This take on Provençal sauce goes well with the strong flavors of this oily fish. “Bluefish is phenomenal when it’s grilled or sautéed,” Shields says. “It needs a hearty sauce to go with it.”
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 pound tomatoes, peeled and chopped, with juice (about 3 cups)
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 bluefish fillets (6 to 7 ounces each)
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Heat oil in a heavy pot and sauté onion, celery, garlic, and green onions until limp. Add tomatoes, wine, capers, thyme, bay leaf, and lemon juice. Simmer for 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread half the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange and lay fillets on top. Spoon remaining sauce over the fish. Butter one side of a sheet of wax paper large enough to cover dish. Cover dish with wax paper, buttered side down. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until fish flakes at the touch of a fork. Remove fillets to a heated platter. Discard bay leaf and spoon sauce over fish. Serves 4.
“Trying to fillet a fish with the scales still on it is the biggest rookie move you can make. It destroys the skin and ruins the fillet.”
—Julian Marucci, executive chef at Cinghiale/Pazo