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mary's fish camp bummer, somewhat

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mary's fish camp bummer, somewhat

Nils | Nov 8, 2001 01:33 AM

Finally decided to risk the wait and went to Mary's Fish Camp tonight. Only about 20 minute wait at 7PM. Fun place, focussed menu, really nice people, great service. Disappointing food, though.

Fried clams and oysters were tasty if uneventful, but face it - it was fresh oysters and clams, fried. How bad is it gonna be?

Arugula salad was loose and generous - whole leaves, fennel slices, scoop of soft gorg. Nice.

Fried whole black sea bass was OK; a little bony and bland, but beats grilled anyday - in most restaurants, at least, which aren't nearly as vigilant as you have to be when grilling or broiling fish (the latter being what most places call 'grilled'). Why are we still stuck with this archaic anti-fry sentiment where everone's so giddy over the word 'grilled' (and if they're so heart-happy, why not steam, braise, poach, or just roast the damn thing)? Now I sound like a deep-fry freak, which I am as much as the next guy (in early-computer days, my friend dreamt she deep-fried her new modem, and woke up SO happy), but for a whole fish it's ideal if done right: crisp skin, non-oily - and rarely undercooked - flesh. And you know, anything deep-fried (and drained) correctly absorbs a negligible amount of fat, but I digress. If I never have another restaurant-grilled fish it won't be a problem.

Anyway, the bouillabaisse was wretched - a tiny bowl of shellfish and skunked mussels in generic broth for $18. (Le Gigot has a killer bouillabaisse just minutes from Mary's and I say run, if it's bouillabaisse you must have.) I really wish everyone would just steam a couple mussels in every batch before testing them on the customers. Really a pointless entree (or "entree") and embarrassing for a fish place.

Might go back for that lobster roll, though $20 lobster rolls are pretty annoying (as are the too-many-shoestring fries that accompany, as if they're doing you a favor).

Speaking of, I'm mixed on the whole clam-shack-for-rich-people schtick...yeah yeah manhattan prices blah blah, but it feels like paying for the *privilege* of counter dining, wine in juice glasses, and 'hey pass the tabasco'. "Dahling, there's the most fabulous place, you eat clams with your _fingers_ and the beer is on _tap_!"

The steamers looked fantastic, by the way.

Nils

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