Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Atlantic Fish Company, Back Bay, Boston

The holidays are all about tradition, aren't they? When I was growing up, every year my family had a tradition of making a group trip to an area mall to Christmas shop. Of course the group trip was more out of necessity than anything as my sister and I were less than mobile not having licenses and all. Even still though, it was one of my favorite days of the year and definitely kicked off the Christmas season for me. When all of the shopping was done, and treasures purchased, we would gather at Legal Seafood, the true New Englanders that we are, and have dinner together. As the years went on and we all got older and busier we lost sight of this tradition a bit, so Saturday night I decided to try to bring it back. In the midst of the mobs of busy shoppers, carols filling the crisp night air, and boughs of evergreen and holly decking the walls, my mother and I ducked into Atlantic Fish Company to enjoy another seafood meal.

Atlantic Fish Company, situated right on Boylston Street across from the Pru, is affiliated with the Back Bay Restaurant Group, a conglomerate of restaurants. Within the Boston food community, restaurants in this group are often not highly regarded, I, however, have always enjoyed my experiences at Atlantic Fish.

We arrived a bit early for our 7:30 reservation, and though the lobby was packed, I was pleased that the hosts were efficiently seating their guests, and even got us to our table before our reserved time. Feeling celebratory, I started with a glass of prosecco as we perused the menu. Our waiter informed us of the specials and I was thrilled to hear that they were featuring fresh Maine shrimp as an appetizer special. I love Maine shrimp, they are small and sweet, and their season is short. We seized the opportunity and ordered the special which was shrimp cooked with artichoke and sun dried tomatoes in a wine and butter sauce. It was decadent and delicious. The artichoke hearts, combined with the tomato created just the right acidity to contrast the rich butter, and the natural sweetness of the shrimp. It was a delicious start to our meal.

One of the aspects about Atlantic Fish that I really love is their list of "fresh caught" seafood choices that you can have prepared to your choosing and pair with your choice of side dishes. I selected the Yellowfin Tuna, grilled to rare, paired with sauteed spinach and green beans for my entree. My mom chose their cod which was laid over corn chowder and paired with shrimp and bits of bacon. My tuna was perfect. A beautiful rare inside, accompanied by wasabi, pickled Ginger and soy sauce. The flavor of the tuna was fresh and clean, I barely dressed it with any of the additives. The spinach was a bit over cooked and a bit greasy for my taste, reminding me of that spinach that is frozen in a box and then steamed to cook- it renders almost a gritty taste to the tongue- I swear that's why kids don't like spinach. The beans were tasty though, if also a little greasy.

My moms dish was absolutely delicious. The cod was perfectly cooked, laid over a rich and creamy chowder. The bacon added a lovely smoky flavor that really contrasted well with the light fish.

As our waiter began to clear our plates, I realized that I was only just finishing my glass of prosecco, a glass that I had intended to enjoy only during the appetizer section. It was then that I realized how quickly we had been served. I had wanted to linger a bit, so we decided to have dessert, and I had another glass of wine. We decided on their fresh fruit tart to share. The fruit was pear mixed with cherries and ginger, topped with vanilla ice cream, which sounded perfect to me. It was served with a flourish of table side ice cream service. The tart had been warmed and the first several bites were flavor explosions of sweet pear, warm spices, and lovely cherries all coated in a buttery crumble topping. However, as we neared the center of the tart, it became obvious that the tart had been frozen before a short warming, and the center was still icy and the cherries frosted little rocks. I was nearing my shut off so I suppose the under done dessert was a blessing in disguise, but a disappointment just the same.

For the first time, my eyes were opened to the pitfalls of Atlantic Fish. Though service was accommodating and very nice, it was obvious they were trying to flip the table quickly. This idea was underlined by the still frozen dessert, obviously rushed through the warming process. Overall, the meal was enjoyable, however my opinion is a bit lowered and I can see a bit more now why others seem to toss it aside in favor of other spots.

What are your favorite holiday season traditions?


Kristen said...

nice review! great descriptions of the entrees. Bummer about the rushed service and frozen in the middle dessert!

Alicia said...

Great review! That's a bummer about the dessert. My favorite holiday tradition actually happens the day after Christmas. My whole extended family and some friends come over on Christmas day - and stay late until the wee hours. All day on the 26th my parents and I lounge in pajamas, watch movies, and eat leftover nice!

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