Divey downtown joint dishes up orgasmic seafood
THE SANTA CLARA
February 4, 2016
Here, you get the gills without the frills. With a menu that includes the entire ocean, a staff that is funny and friendly and an unpretentious execution of signature dishes, The City Fish serves up fresh, high-end seafood at a hole in the wall location in Downtown San Jose. It offers a slice of East Coast-style, beachside grub.
The first sign that indicates this place is the real deal is the smell: it’s non-existent. Fresh fish doesn’t smell fishy, it smells like the ocean. And this place is sparkling clean and smells like an early morning bay breeze.
Once you reach the counter, ordering becomes your most difficult task. The City Fish’s extensive menu could vary tastebuds for a lifetime, offering up everything from their famous fish and chips to fried catfish to even a New York steak.
I started with the fish and chips. Customers can choose anywhere from one to four pieces of massive, beer-battered Alaskan halibut. The preparation is flawless: the breading is tempura-light and compliments the delicacy of the flaky, creamy whitefish.
One piece is more than enough for a meal, and for under five bucks there may not be a better deal in town.
Equally indulgent are The City Fish’s other fried seafood options. I tasted my way through meaty prawns, briney (in the best sense of the word) oysters and tender scallops. Unlike most seafood places, the fried seafood at The City Fish is not too greasy and allows the sanctity of the seafood to take precedent over the golden brown exterior.
I also sampled the clam chowder, which featured so much butter and heavy cream that for a minute I thought I had accidentally ordered a side of gravy. Despite the richness, the chowder was packed with huge chunks of clams and had a luscious texture. Nothing would be better on a cold day in the South Bay.
The one sandwich I chose featured smoked salmon and cool cream cheese melted together between two pieces of crusty, buttery, grilled bread. It was a belt-loosening crowd pleaser, and would convert anyone who thinks fish is icky.
The most elegant of the dishes I tasted was the grilled swordfish, which was seasoned liberally with the restaurant’s sweet and smoky spice rub. The fish had a mild flavor that was greatly enhanced by the cook’s decision to leave the skin on. Its striking taste matched its appearance—the red spice mix artfully dotting the white canvas of the fish.
The sides and trimmings are pretty straightforward. The fries are routine (if a bit soft), the coleslaw provides a creamy contrast to the saltiness of the seafood and the tartar sauce and tangy ketchup add dimensionality to the sometimes monotonous flavor of the fish. The best side ended up being the steamed vegetables, which were buttery, peppery and pliant.
For those looking for well-prepared seafood that won’t empty out your wallet, The City Fish surprises with its ample selection and high quality. It’s the catch of the day, everyday.
Contact Jimmy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.