Just relaxing on an islet in the Caribbean

Friday, April 16, 2010

What the heck...Fish & Beer?!?

Yes-sir-ee, ya got that right, ‘fish and beer’! “HOUSE OF BIGFISH & ICE COLD BEER” lives up to their name…big, plastic fish on the walls surrounded by fish netting, big fish fillets on your plate and a menu of fifty beers (yep, guys and gals...50) to choose from!

Located on the second floor (former site of the Aegean CafĂ©) in a shopping center within walking distance from downtown Laguna, Chris Keller, et al., (“K’ya” and “Roof Top Bar” also in Laguna Beach) has introduced a new type of restaurant to our sweet little town which combines wonderful seafood and a plethora of great beers.

With views of the ocean, a full bar, five flat screen televisions showcasing various sports from surfing to mixed martial arts, and a separate…albeit enclosed, dining patio, I would say the ambiance of this dining establishment is “baja style” and a cool place to hang out with your pals. I expected Jimmy Buffet to stroll in at any moment and settle himself among the crowded room of happy patrons who range between the ages of the early 20’s to mid-late 60’s. House of Bigfish & Ice Cold Beer is a great meeting place with excellent energy everywhere. Folks, I do not recommend dining at Bigfish if you are looking for a quiet, romantic setting since the noise level can get fairly loud. For a quieter experience reserve or suggest a spot in their separate dining patio.

I have had the pleasure of dining at Bigfish & Ice Cold Beer on several occasions and found the food very good and the service to be mostly inconsistent with my dining partner telling me he believed the service “sucked” (omitting explitive!) on one particular evening! In defense of the restaurant, they are recently opened therefore working out the “service kinks” is still in the making.

The first time I dined at Bigfish my waitress was the lovely Natalia, a Laguna local with a wonderful smile and gracious disposition making my experience even better! Although the restaurant is still in the infancy state Natalia managed to do a fantastic job serving us in a timely manner. My next couple of visits left me feeling as if the service was somewhat off. I must admit the service one particular evening was an utter disaster since I was unfortunate to have a waitress who must have sniffed way too much glue (she was a ding bat and screwed up all of our simple orders). Alas, I reminded myself that is why it is not a good idea to review newly opened restaurants.

Allow me to discuss food…for all of you herring lovers Bigfish has a delicious “Pickled Herring”on the menu and I found that to be a pleasant surprise since I have yet to find a restaurant that offers herring much less the picked version. My appetizer (a large portion) was tender chunks of lightly pickled herring with small diced sweet onions which made for a nice flavor balance.

My hubby and I decided the “Steamed Clams” were the best we have ever tasted! They were served in a huge bowl with an over abundance of baby clams which nestled in a gently spiced tomato-garlic and fresh herbed broth. We used our garlic bread for dipping and they were just delicious!

I very much enjoyed an order of “Hamachi Poke” which was presented as a mound of small cubed yellowtail in a sweet-soy base with threads of cabbage, seaweed and crispy chips. Although the fish was very tasty I must say there was not enough of it. I found my amount of Hamachi to be very minimal and would have been much happier with another spoonful.
Bigfish has eight different types of fish to choose from with preparation and sauce options along with “side fish toppings” for an extra buck. My entre was the grilled “Opakapaka”. For those in the know, I love my spice and for folks, who also enjoy an extra “bite” of spice, order your fish fillet blackened instead of Cajun style. The blackened spices are pressed into the fish fillet and the effect is pretty hot on your tongue bumping up the scoville units leaving you to beg for an ice beer to cool down your pie hole! In addition, you also get a choice of two sides from Cajun rice, grilled vegetables, home-style potatoes and coleslaw. The grilled vegetables are a blend of bell peppers, onions, carrots, zucchini and teeny tiny cauliflowerettes; they are very well prepared and tasty.

For patrons with small appetites Bigfish offers small plates for $5 each which are “irresistible to your wallet”. If fish does not sound appetizing, how about a “Hot Sausage Sandwich”, “Steak Bites” or “Shrimp Scampi Pasta” (guys, so “shrimp” is seafood, please do not discount the pasta aspect of that dish with garlic butter, tomato and Parmesan cheese) to satisfy all the non-pescetarians out there? Heck, you may even be in the mood for “Huevos Rancheros”…the choices are endless. I have yet to try some but rumor has it the “Shrimp Cocktail” tasted mushy as if it were frozen way too long.

To end a lively evening filled with people watching, a full bar, high energy and well prepared food have one of the five desserts on the menu. Actually, I guess I should count six desserts but the sixth is not for under age drinkers…“adults only” when ordering this dessert. The “Raspberry Beer Float with Chocolate Ice Cream ($6) has Lindemans Framboise Lambic…a berry flavored liquor. Yummy, must try it next time!

Due to the incredibly reasonable prices I highly recommend dining at “House of Bigfish & Ice Cold Beer”. Go and enjoy well prepared food, an ice cold “Organic Pinkus Heffeweiazen”, “Dopplebock” or a “Redhook Mud Slinger”, check out the scene or wait for the live entertainment after hours. Give them some more time to work out the service kinks and you will have a grand ol’time.
Cheers!

House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer on Urbanspoon
Dinner 4:30-10:30p.m.
Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 4:30-5:30p.m.
$GREAT$ Price Point

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