I think I can use some advice when it comes to the task of ordering fish in a restaurant with the best possible results.
I know the best bet is to order fish at a seafood restaurant with a good reputation for serving fresh fish, especially if it is located right on the water. My concern is with ordering fish located at a typical restaurant located at Anytown, USA.
Case in point: Last week I went to an Italian restaurant which many local diners have been raving about. When the waiter described his list of specials, he mentioned one which began with "We're doing a grouper with..............etc." I forget the rest. In any event, I ordered it, for the plain and simple reason that I was in the mood for some fish.
I had made the assumption that the grouper would be fresh and taste fresh, simply because the waiter mentioned it as one of their evening specials. Apparently, my assumption was faulty. As it turned out, the grouper had that "frozen" taste.
In the future, whenever a waiter mentions some type of fish as one of their specials, would it be too "forward" for me to ask some of the following questions:
1) What date was the fish caught?
2) How long has the fish been stored in the refrigerator?
3) Was the fish frozen before becoming refrigerated, and if so, how long was it frozen?
It seems to me that asking such questions might have the effect of inviting a dishonest answer for the purpose of making a sale.
Based upon a previous Chowhound discussion on the subject fresh fish, there seemed to be a concensus of opinion that a freshly caught fish does not "keep" in the refrigerator longer than 2 or 3 days, and that fish should not be frozen for longer than a week.
I also had the recent experience of ordering another piece of fish at another restaurant that was described as follows: "New Zealand Whole Snapper with Onion Marmelade and Preserved Lemon. Flown In Fresh From New Zealand."
This was the 3rd day this fish special was on. Based upon the 3-day advice for freshness I had read earlier, I decided to take my chances and try it. It tasted okay while I was eating it. But afterwards, my fingers smelled "fishy" and I detected "fish breath" after I got home.
It had been several years ago since I last tried a whole fish special and I do not recall these "fishy" effects. Would you consider this a reliable indication that my New Zealand Snapper was eaten beyond the desired time limit for freshness?
When you order a fish special at a restaurant, one whose reputation for seafood dishes is uncertain to you, what standards are you looking for? What questions, if any, do you ask?
Any comments and feedback on the above would be deeply appreciated.
Thanks in advance.