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The Fishery: a renaissance in San Diego's Pacific Beach

Jim Strain | Apr 6, 200306:41 PM

If you haven’t eaten at the Fishery lately, you really should take a fresh look and a fresh taste. I don’t know what the deal is, but something really important has happened there, and whoever is running the kitchen has his or her stuff firmly together.

The newly updated menu emphasizes seafood, of course (as you’d expect at a place where the tables front the butcher’s case in a retail fish market), but they also have a sushi menu and many of the items on the regular bill could have come from a menu in Ensenada or Mazatlan. Fusion? I dunno, but it was definitely da bomb.

Yesterday I had the best lunch I ‘ve had in quite a while. We started with an order of steamed mussels ($10.95) that came in a rich broth, heady with garlic and tomatoes and a surprising bite of some sort of invisible chile. The mussels were of two types: the familiar green-lips and a small black variety that was very tender. Both kinds were fresh and flavorful, and there wasn’t a dud in the whole batch. But even better than the mussels was the broth! It was soooo good. We asked for and got a big basket of bread and we dipped and munched our way to nirvana while waiting for our main courses. To keep our pallets awake we nursed a cold bottle of Murphy Goode fume blanc ( $25).

It was lunch, so Di had a featured sandwich: Grilled Hawaiian mahi-mahi, served on an onion roll, and topped with a slice of fresh grilled(!) pineapple, roasted red onion, and melted jack cheese ($12.95). The fish was marinated in teriyaki sauce, but somehow it wasn’t overpowered by it. It was *just* cooked -- juicy tender and not at all flaky. It was perfect. It was served with freshly made shoestrings and homemade slaw. The fries and coleslaw were good, but neither of us wanted to waste any of the space in our stomachs (though I have a lot of it), so we only tasted them. This was a massive sandwich and delicious, but it should have been served on a more substantial bread than the flimsy onion roll. It made for a messy and not easily handled package. Still, if I arrived hungry, I’d order it again in a heartbeat.

For my main course I had ancho shrimp tamales ($10.95). There were two homemade tamales with masa as light as Grandma Mary used to make, and filled with tiny succulent shrimp. You unwrap your tamal, then top it with sour cream, diced fresh tomato, a slip of cilantro and some truly yummy homemade salsa that was the perfect accompaniment to the camaroncitos. Served with it was rice and some especially good frijoles in one of those little crispy flour-tortilla bowls. Our bill, exclusive of tip, was $64.49. Now that may seem steep for a place that doesn’t have tablecloths, and where folks from the neighborhood are buying huachinango for tonight’s dinner, but if Wolfgang Puck set up shop in an old Burger King, would you go? I like Point Loma, but unless I’m nostalgic for the smell of creosote and diesel (which, believe it or not, I sometimes am), I’ll take The Fishery.

The Fishery is way at the north end of Cass Street (I keep thinking I’ve passed it). They are a wholesale supplier to many of the restaurants in San Diego, and the restaurant and retail fish market occupy a small portion of a big industrial-type building at 5040 Cass Street. I hope they can maintain their recent quality; if they can, then all of us San Diego hounds will have reason to sing.
. . jim strain in san diego (La Mesa, actually)

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