A friend who favors restaurants like Bucca de Bepo, Olive Garden and Chevy's treated me to a surprise dinner tonight at The Dead Fish in Crocket near the Bridge.
The mussels were magnificent served on a sizzling skillet. There was a generous square loaf of Acme Pain de Mie to sop up the excellent broth. The mussels were plump and super fresh.
Nothing else in the restaurant matched the mussels, but some of the food was very good. There seemed to be interesting items on the menu. The restaurant makes some of its own liquors like the limoncello.
We followed the mussels with a sizzling shrimp platter. This was ok, but not as successful. The plate didn't come out sizzling. The shrimp were fresh water variety where you had to peal the very, very thick shells ... probably why this plate wasnt served as hot, so fingers didn't burn. Once you peeled the shrimp, they were a little dry and didn't have much taste.
There is also The Dead Fish Sizzling Iron Skillet Roasted Mussels, Shrimp and Crab Combo. My friend says that she prefers to order the dishes individually rather than in the combo. The single orders, according to her, are more generous. The recipe and some background about the restauarant are in a link to Bay Crossings magazine below.
After the mussels and shrimp we were given a warmed wet towel to clean our hands.
We split a dessert of Lemon Truffle semifreddo w/ limoncello filling. With an intense, fresh lemon flavor the little scoop was served in a blue martini glass. The outside almost reminded me of a frozen peep (those marshmallow Easter chickens). Inside there was a sorbet like core of the house made limoncello. It was very refreshing.
The only disappointments were my crab chowder and my friends chopped side salad. My friend said the salad was bland. The restaurant served corn chowder and it seems the crab chowder was just that ... a bland canned corn tasting chowder with crab. There was no crab flavor, even in the pieces of crab. There were some mushy carrot and potato pieces in the chowder.
Here's the link to The Dead Fish Menu.
There seem to be some interesting items on the menu though a review in the Contra Costa Times seems to say stick to the simply prepared dishes like the Skillets, Prime Rib and Garlic noodles.
There is a little Asian/Italian fusion with menu items like
Italian Pot Stickers sausage, wild mushrooms & garlic
Sautéed Scallop w/ wasabi pesto oil
Other interesting appetizers were Deep-fried Stuffed Olives, Fried Castroville Artichokes, and Garlic Spinach Fontina Fondue.
In the Entree sections Hawaiian Sunfish Filet w/ seaweed sauté, Oven Roasted Fulton Valley Chicken and Braised Boneless Short Ribs appealed to me.
My friend has only had the skillets and the Prime Rib on past visits. She recommended the Prime Rib.
Also interesting to me is the $5.95 brunch items and sandwiches.
Brunch is served all day and for the price you get the Acme toast, an Iron Skillet Omelet w/ raw milk white cheddar that includes a choice of additions like
Crispy Italian Bacon & Cherry Tomatoes
Fried Mortedella (Italian bologna)
Joe's Special-sautéed spinach, onion & ground chuck
Spanish Jose-Ortega pepper, onions, tomatoes & ground chuck
Sautéed Spinach w/ garlic, lemon & parsley
Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
Red & Green Bell peppers onions & tomatoes soffritto
The Sandwiches have pretty much the same contents and there is also an additional prime rib dip sandwich (add $1.95 to the $5.95 sandwich cost).
The wine list is limited but nice enough, if not spectacular.
Very nice decor in shades of brown and mustard. I LOVED the leopard print carpeting which strangely went very well with the room and didn't seem tacky. Now a diner who actually was wearing a leopard print ... that was tacky. You don't want to match the floor covering.
The walls are sponged mustard, there are plush, so to speak, dark mahogany brown booths. There's a nice collection of ship models lining the ceiling with nautical things in frames. The walls have brass portholes.
The tables are faux grey marble and crowded with a number of items: a large pewter finish water pitcher, water glasses, caddy for mussels with plates, a lighted candle and a sliver tray with large bottles of olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar.
We were at a corner table and I actually asked if the table was going to be cleared as it looked like these items were being stored here. The waitress said every table had all these items.
Yeah, the service ... not great. Friendly enough, but slow in taking the order. Then the pacing was all off. In the middle of the soup, the mussels were served. My friend waited to order the shrimp because she said the timing has always been off and we would have had everything served at once. There seemed to be a rush to get dishes to the table as soon as possible and rush people out.
They also rely on a hand held order system so modifications can't be made to orders (or so said our server). My friend wanted to add blue cheese to her side salad and was told the computer couldnt handle it.
The view of the Cartinez straight and the Alfred Zampa Bridge is beautiful. The only nit I had was that there were some bushes in front of our window that needed trimming a blocked a piece of the view.
Although I didnt see it, there is an outdoor patio area which I imagine would be very pleasant on a warm evening.
The separate bar area is very comfortable, set a little higher on the hill, the view is better (no bushes). There's a roaring fire and a TV.
The DRINK LIKE A FISH cocktails seem to be the appeal here with names like:
Bloody Shark Vodka, Dead Fish Tomato Mix
Hot to Trout Coffee, Brandy & Whipped Cream
Red Herring Champagne, Cranberry Juice & OJ
Mermaid Blended Strawberries,Tequila,Lime Juice
Fish Breath Tequila, Midori & O.J.
Crabby Mood Vodka, Peach Schnapps & Cranberry
Fish Out of Water Vodka, Cranberry & Lime Juice
Piranha Vodka, Orange Cream Soda & Grenadine
Flipper Non-alcoholic "Mermaid"
That whole theme is carried through the menu with the RECENTLY DEMISED FISH OF THE DAY, Killer Crab fish section, OTHER DEAD THINGS (meat), and LIVE SALADS.
Ironically, I posted a few weeks ago that I would NEVER set foot in The Dead Fish because it is owned by the same group that owns The Stinking Rose, Calzones and The Crab House on Pier 39.
My experience at The Crab House was so bad a few years ago, I wanted nothing more to do with these restaurants. Some of the items on the Dead Fish menu also appear on the Crab House menu.
So although I really enjoyed the mussels, until I try other items on the menu, my recommendations, so far, is only for that item and maybe the desserts. Skip the side salad and chowder.
Heres the Bay Crossing review with recipe. It mentions the funny Dead Fish commercials that can be found on the restaurant web site. The web site also has a link to the chefs very amusing Sex and the Kitchen recipe web site.