- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 11, 2017


The MGM National Harbor is continuing to attract residents from across the DMV to its lighted perch in Oxon Hill, Maryland, and little wonder given its plethora of shops, gaming and some first-rate restaurants. As I reported last week in these pages, the Asian fusion restaurant Ginger offers a bounty of colorful and creative options from cuisines across the Far East, but because the nation’s capital sits on a river, after all, it was incumbent to also check out the MGM’s seafood-centric eatery.

Appropriately enough, it is called Fish.

Fish, the brainchild of Chef Jose Andres, makes much use of the aquatic cuisines of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in conjunction with tried-and-true recipes from bodies of water the world over.

Rather than having one centrally located kitchen, Fish actually features several specialized stations where culinary staff prepare specific sections of the menu, sending them to the table as soon as they are ready rather than all at once. This gives one the feeling of a high-end tapas concept, but with portions that are more “small plate” in nature than the singular serving of tapas-style platters. There’s even a Josper oven, a combination grill and oven whose fires are stoked by live charcoals the kitchen staff continually circulate for maximal cooking efficiency.

First up, Victoria and I try the half-dozen mixed oysters on the half shell, with offerings tonight coming from British Columbia — the B.C. to our D.C. — and Rhode Island. The New England mollusks are especially tasty, with neither the brininess or high salt content that many oysters sometimes present.

The wine menu is staggering. Victoria and I are in a Spanish mood, and we ask the knowledgeable sommelier for a recommendation based on our courses. She points us to the Hondarribi Zuri Txacoli de Arabako 2015, which is crisp but not dry, and exquisitely complements our courses.

Along with the half-shell oysters we are served delicious, freshly made biscuits and butter. Also for appetizer, we are served house-made hush puppies, served piping-hot direct from the baking oven (let them cool just a bit, trust me). The honey butter to complement the hush puppies makes for a fine taste sensation, though next time I imagine skipping them and going in for more of the house-made biscuits, which I can’t get enough of.

For first course we go in for middle neck clams and seared squid. The clams from Virginia are served in broth that is absolutely amazing — a package of butter and salty that is as wonderful for dipping the table bread into as it is for flavoring the clams themselves. The squid is prepared in a way I have not seen before, and bears a bit of a charcoal grill profile. The squid are perfectly prepped for easy mastication, although the smokiness of the dish is just slightly off-putting to my personal palate.

And on to the big guns. For the main course we share the Golden Trout, which comes from the Sea Pac Farm in Idaho. The fish is served whole-grilled, delicately sliced up the middle of the body and the flesh spread out across a cutting board, and with just the right amount of sea salt for garnish. It’s perfect for two, and it does not disappoint as the tender fish flesh melts upon chewing with its mix of spices and just the right amount of heat from the charcoal grill.

Because there’s always room for dessert, and because both Victoria and I are much into chocolate, we ask for the Devil’s Food Cake, comprising milk chocolate with Chantilly whipped cream and raspberry sprinkles. It is, in a word, heaven. And less you plan to break those New Year’s resolutions, it’s better to share it with another.

The staff are attentive and knowledgeable; even the assistant servers are fully cognizant of the minutiae of dishes they are dropping off tableside, for which, as a former restaurant worker myself, I give full points.

Fully sated, we head off, both smelling of smoke from the coal fires — we’ll likely need a change and a shower — but thoroughly sated from our meal.

Go fish at Fish, and you will not be disappointed.

Reservations can be made by calling 844/646.6847.

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