Know of a great seafood restaurant in Manhattan?
I would like to go to a restaurant that actually cooks and sautees their fish. Not a place that grills, broil or fries their fish and throws some sauce.
Know of any?
I don't know of any great seafood places in your price range. Tides on the Lower East Side comes close but will still cost you a little more than your budget allows. My advice would be to take your $15 and go to Citarella or another top-tier seafood market and sautee the fish yourself for a few minutes. It sounds like you want it simple and of very high quality but don't want to spend much. To me, that means make it at home.
Good luck and enjoy!
Bondi Road on Rivington in the LES prepares fish to your specifications in this way and has no sauces or extras unless you want them.
mermaid inn. surprised no one's mentioned. perhaps a few dollars more than what you had in mind, but not much, esp. if you order somewhat carefully. fresh, interesting preparations in casual atmosphere.