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Fish - Seafood at the MGM Casino at National Harbor - Run by ThinkFoodGroup


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Tom Sietsema declared this to be the best seafood restaurant in DC!

I beg to differ.  I would have to assume that Tom got special treatment because every Jose employee is probably required to know his face.

First, no geoduck, no sea urchin, and no hush puppies.  I didn't realize that hush puppies need to be sourced like other pristine seafood.

So we started with some scallop crudo, which should taste mild and sweet.  Ours tasted slightly fishy, which made me want to hide the flavor by ingesting the celery in black pepper giardiniera.

Next, roasted oysters, served with a side of Fresno chili butter sauce.  One of our 5 oysters didn't pop.  I complained and they replaced the order with 5 shucked oysters roasted with the sauce, which actually tasted better.

Lastly, lobster jambalaya.  The rice was slightly crunchy, and if you don't dig out the lobster immediately, it will become overcooked.  I wouldn't say the lobster was perfectly cooked when it arrived at our table, but waiting will make it much worse.  The flavor wasn't anything special.  

Nate Waugaman didn't shine at America Eats Tavern, why would he all of a sudden become the chef at DC's best seafood restaurant?

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Wow.  Does not sound good.  Never understood the whole lobster thing for the longest time.  I would order blue crab over lobster every time. Then my friend, Jon Mathieson, now head chef for the Redskins, served me butter poached lobster not over cooked. An epiphany! 

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1 hour ago, Ericandblueboy said:

Nate Waugaman didn't shine at America Eats Tavern, why would he all of a sudden become the chef at DC's best seafood restaurant?

I certainly agree about America Eats Tavern, a badly flawed menu with uneven and occasionally uninspired execution. Telling me that the chef at America Eats Tavern is now killing it at a seafood restaurant sounds like fake news or alternative facts.

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On 4/2/2017 at 2:16 PM, Kibbee Nayee said:

I certainly agree about America Eats Tavern, a badly flawed menu with uneven and occasionally uninspired execution. Telling me that the chef at America Eats Tavern is now killing it at a seafood restaurant sounds like fake news or alternative facts.

Or, maybe, he learned from his experiences and improved?

I mean really...if you don't like a place, you don't like a place...fine.

But insulting a chef at a restaurant that you've never tried because you didn't like his previous restaurant?

That's a bit of a low blow.

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4 hours ago, mtureck said:

Or, maybe, he learned from his experiences and improved?

I mean really...if you don't like a place, you don't like a place...fine.

But insulting a chef at restaurant t that you've never tried because you didn't like his previous restaurant?

That's a bit of a low blow.

Sorry that you feel that way, but you're entitled to your opinion.

If you have ever tried the cold-in-the-middle vermicelli mac-n-cheese or the gooey-cornmeal-mush gripping the outside of the cornmeal-crusted Maryland catfish, you might hold a similar opinion of America Eats Tavern.

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6 hours ago, mtureck said:

Or, maybe, he learned from his experiences and improved?

I mean really...if you don't like a place, you don't like a place...fine.

But insulting a chef at restaurant t that you've never tried because you didn't like his previous restaurant?

That's a bit of a low blow.

Nate can cook (he can - I've had his cooking enough to know this), but I see no low blows here.

This said, let's all take a deep breath and remember that Johnny Monis came from Chef Geoff's.

Still, I think Eric's post needs to be taken seriously (even though I doubt there are hush puppies at Fiola Mare either).

The best seafood restaurant in the DC area *was* Eat the Rich when Julien Shapiro was chef there.

A 300-seat restaurant at a casino won't be the best seafood restaurant in the DC area for very long, so I would take that statement with a very large grain of (sea) salt.

I was going to go last Friday, but they weren't open for lunch.

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Absolutely agree with Eric's assessment. What a disaster. 

It's an incredibly beautiful place, with such a gorgeous view from most parts of the restaurant. Really, an incredible architectural experience. And then, it falls apart. Didn't have a reservation, but were going early to make it easier on the staff I was taking out. Called at 5:02pm, "Can I have a table for around 5.30P?" "How about 5pm?" "Well, it's already 5pm, so ... what about 5.30pm?" "Um, next table at 7.30P". "I'll take the 5pm, then."

Get to the restaurant at 5.10pm, my friends are already there at the bar, checked in, and were told can have a drink and then transfer it to table. I asked for a dry white, and was offered a riesling (hmm... ) and Chenin Blanc. Took the latter, crisp, refereshing, nothing amazing. About 5:30pm, place is still rather empty, and we decide to go to the table. Bartender was fussy about transferring the check (I really didn't care, my coworker was TOLD to do this by the host), she said they don't really like to do that, but went over to the host stand and took care of it. I think the worry is that she would lose her tip? No, dear, we are not going to screw you over, we left her money. 

Got to the table, mind you looking at several empty tables inside and out.. We ordered some things and told that they were out of sea urchin. And then, I asked about the geoduck (huge fail on pronouncing that!), which they were also out of. But, they did have hush puppies. Real corn inside them, honey butter pretty good. Also got the mussels in chowder. So... huge mussels, a little chewy. The sauce was not really chowder, thin, no body, not a whole lot of flavor. And, yeah, as a sauce, probably don't want true, full on, thick New England chowder, but I'll get back to that. Got a dozen oysters. This really annoyed me, because he asked what kind I wanted - MD, VA, other? I said, how about a sampler? They came back with them with 2 separate plates of 6 oysters and a set up of 3 sauces (cocktail, hot, and vinagery something). I asked both of the guys that brought them over to tell me which oysters were which. They were stumped. One mumbled something made up completely and walked away. The actual waiter came back, asked him. He had no idea. THIS IS A SEAFOOD RESTAURANT. Wow. Like if I ordered 2 bottles of different red wines, and they came unlabeled, and no one could tell me what they were. Anyway, the biggest ones were good.

I was kind of fuming, b/c not only do I hate paying non-happy hour prices for oysters, I really hate not knowing what I'm getting, especially at $3 an oyster. Then, they came to clear the table. When they cleared the mussels - which took two people - both people were rough with it and spilled the "chowder". Mine missed my sleeve, but my dosimetrist had chowder on her dress. Hardly an apology. Remarkable. 

We ordered 3 entrees for the 4 of us. Lobster, grilled. Was good. Not big, probably closer to 1lb than 1.5, and at about 4 times the price you get it in Maine. It's basically shelled for you. Fried porgy. I liked this, it was like the Tiger Fork whole fried fish, where they fry it, and then take out the pieces inside, and then fry those. Salmon, actually not bad for someone that doesn't really care for salmon. It's cut vertically instead horizontally (like a CT slice of a fish), and they were able to make the skin very crispy. 

So, there were some positives, but the whole experience really annoyed me. And, I figured out why. At a Jose Andres restaurant, if the food is amazing or if it is a disaster, the service, efficiency, knowledge of the staff, and the EXPERIENCE is always so good that I want to go back. I miss Zaytinya like I miss an old friend, I think wistfully of my food at China Chilcano, even when I did not adore my meal at Oyamel, I still had a good time. But this ... no. Not going back.  I also didn't understand why they were so inflexible with reservations - they do a remote service (the person was in a different time zone, she said) - and I don't get the sense they know what's happening on the ground. It was still really not full when we left at 7.30p. 

$320 with tax and tip for 4 people, and I was hungry afterwards, so went to Sushi Lounge in DR with the lady and stole some of her edamame and rolls. 

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1 hour ago, Simul Parikh said:

When they cleared the mussels - which took two people - both people were rough with it and spilled the "chowder". Mine missed my sleeve, but my dosimetrist had chowder on her dress. Hardly an apology. Remarkable. 

The clams were angry. They were surf clams, and were harvested just as a wave crashed down on them.

They needed some breaky therapy.

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The good news - you can now book the Fry Bar directly on Open Table!

The rest are bad news.  Website shows the Classics as $40 and Jose's Way as $50.  I had Jose's Way at $80 and I believe the Classics cost $60.

Everything was pre-prepared, with a young lady battering and frying them in front of the guests.  Notice the menu said "legendary tempura method" but there's nothing tempura-like about the end product.

1.  Tuna tartar on fried shiso - bland

2.  Fried Avocado topped with trout roe - strange combination

3.  Fried oyster with tartar sauce - a nice lettuce wrap

4.  Fried squash with yogurt sauce - I don't like squash or yogurt

5.  Seaweed salad - this is not hijiki but some tough wakame

6.  Does that look like a crab cake?

7.  King crab - pre-cooked crab with dry stringy texture

8.  Fried quail eggs topped with ham and caviar - runny yolk shows some delicacy but the combinations are still odd

9.  Fried chicken flat wing with buffalo sauce - tastes a bit like Korean fried chicken, which is good

10.  Fried crab claw - not sure why they call this a fritter, it's just a crap claw

11.  Fried reformed braised lamb - gamy and uninteresting.

Voila - now I can delete these photos off my phone.

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Despite the menu marquee, the Chesapeake Bay does not appear to be bountiful if oysters and quail eggs are the only items deemed representable from a 64,000 sq mile watershed (not even the crab cake gets MD designation).  Might as well pave portions of the bay for parking and drill for oil in the rest.

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On 1/7/2018 at 3:50 PM, Poivrot Farci said:

Despite the menu marquee, the Chesapeake Bay does not appear to be bountiful if oysters and quail eggs are the only items deemed representable from a 64,000 sq mile watershed (not even the crab cake gets MD designation).  Might as well pave portions of the bay for parking and drill for oil in the rest.

I’m pretty sure you can squeeze some gluten-free, paleo breakfast juice out of those Assateague Island horses. You know, for a cleanse.

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Had plans with a degenerate friend last night to sin away the night but first we had to eat.

The bar at Fish was empty so we encamped there.  I ordered conservatively and was rewarded with good food.  First I had some fried oysters.  After having 1.5 fried oysters the night before at A Rake's Progress, I wanted more so I renewed my insurance with Geico and got a heaping plateful of crispy well seasoned oysters.  Second, I got some salt cod fritters - it's salty cod and potatoes (nothing exciting).  Third, I got some plump roasted middle neck clams that tasted like they were just cooked alive.  Lastly, I got some Brussels sprouts that you can find at just about every restaurant.

 

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I would go back for the biscuits.  After we sat down at the bar and the biscuits came, I was relieved that they were so shamelessly an attempt at Red Lobster's biscuits, but much improved.  Lighter, softer, but nailed the taste exactly.

And that is the last nice thing to say about the food at this restaurant.  Well, the conch fritters were fine.  

The hush puppies seem to have changed since Tom S.'s initial review and were straightforward, dense balls of fried cornmeal, dusted in too much old bay, served with honey butter that tasted like they ran out of honey.  It was the first of several dishes that tasted of murky salt, and not much more.  The Shrimp and Grits followed suit, with a brown sauce that tasted only of salt, and grits so loose they dissolved into the dark goo.  Sweet Tea chicken brought two pieces of fried chicken (menu and plate didn't match) over a brownish puree of what I later learned were peas.  No brightness whatsoever from the peas, the chicken was rubbery underneath the over-salted skin.

I have a feeling this is a place that could be decent if you know what to order and stick to it.  Raw seafood, some of the fried options.  The bartender took my plate of chicken away with only two bites missing, and asked sadly "I trust everything was ok?" while looking down.  It was - we had a fun and lucky night at the casino without a toddler.  It just would have been better if we'd eaten somewhere else.

---

Conch Fritters (DonRocks)

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