Fishscale

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I’m a seafood lover and former fish burger proponent (back in my pescatarian days before I knew better), so Fishscale’s gimmick has intrigued me since its salad days. I suggested it once with the fam, but my husband’s grandmother 86’d it. Fair enough. On the one hand, Fishscale would be great for Grandma because the menu is extremely limited. On the other hand, they only serve their Grandma-friendly crab burgers when they’re actually in season. I feel like I should know when crab season is by now, but I still don’t.

I was worried about the limitedness of the menu in terms of doing my write-up here. They only have two kinds of fish on the menu on any given day–today it was mackerel and rockfish–and you are allowed to pick two of their six toppings (some of which are very similar). I love rockfish, so my husband agreed that he would get the mackerel burger and we would opt for opposite toppings. Unfortunately, upon entering Fishscale, we learned that they were sold out of mackerel and alas, it is not crab season, so now we were down to one fish option. I feel like when your restaurant offers two things, you really shouldn’t run out of one of them. Also, there are some caveats on the number of toppings you can get in that some of them are considered premium and you are permitted only one. This seems like a little too much bureaucracy for a glorified Filet O’Fish. I ordered mine with dinosaur kimchi (I think it was dinosaur kale) and my husband got grilled onions and sambal. We also ordered the grilled romaine salad.

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This salad was actually insanely delicious. I used a spoon to scrape up the leftover kefir dressing. It had mildly sweet granola with blood oranges and the dressing was tangy-sweet. It was like eating breakfast on top of lettuce, but it magically worked.

I loved watching the chef lovingly craft each sandwich from our high-top perch near the cash register. I read his story on their website and learned that he is very much into not only Jesus but also responsible fishing. Just observing him, you could tell that he really cares about the food and about good planetary stewardship. I appreciate it. Good food comes from people who care about food.

Unfortunately, Fishscale’s burgers are the culinary equivalent of my burgeoning violin skills; sometimes it is possible for a person to care so much about their passion and still just not be that good.

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Contrary to my usual MO, I will issue my complaints before my compliments. The bun: untoasted, dry, boring, and possibly store-bought. If you’re going to import bread, at least buy potato or challah or sweet rolls. The kimchi: clearly homemade but not spicy and not enough. Also, it was nothing special; why was I not allowed to combine this with another topping? The fish patties: I don’t know whether to be impressed or suspicious that they were such a perfect shape. They were also salty but lacking in other adjectives. They brought us out some individual packs of potato chips to accompany our sandwiches, which was unexpected but nice, although chips are not my thing. I didn’t want mine so I took the bag out of the restaurant with me and regifted it to a homeless man who let’s just say was less than impressed.

Here are my compliments: the grilled onion-sambal combination was a winner for sure.  Also, the fish was pretty juicy. I think there’s potential here, but they need more options all around. A liquor license wouldn’t hurt either.

Price: $15 per person.

Bottom line: I wanted Fishscale to be good but it was meh at best. Great idea, poor implementation. Come to my house instead and I’ll make you a delicious salmon burger with Swiss cheese and chimichurri, and I’ll serve it on a goddamn potato roll like our lord and savior Jesus intended.

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