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Feb 20, 2008 03:42 PM

Any recent visits to Blackfish?

I've been trying to get a reservation, to no avail, for quite awhile. I just got one for next Wedsnesday night and was wondering if anyone has been recently and what you thought. I did do a search, but found a review from October that wasn't very good. If you'd recommend it, any dishes that are ones to try? Thanks!

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  1. I haven't been there yet but made a reservation (which I later canceled) on Open Table.

    1. We recently went to Blackfish for dinner and ordered some of the dishes described glowingly in the reviews we had read. My husband said the bouillabaisse was one of the worst he has ever had. I had the Blackfish version of surf and turf--scallops and short ribs. This was a terrible combination as the short ribs completely overpowered the scallops. I had asked the very friendly server about this possibility before oredering and was assured this was a superb dish. It was not. The frisee salad was good and was the best dish we had.
      After rereading all the praise and hearing the next week about the Philadelphia magazine's #3 ranking, I went back for lunch with a friend and ordered the highly praised chicken pot pie. Again I was disappointed. The presentation was lovely, but it was nothing more than thick chicken soup topped with puff pastry.
      I do not understand all the praise as we were most unhappy with our selections which were chosen from their very limited menu. The restaurant has very close, compact tables, with wait staff bumping diners continually. Our advice is to not even try to get a reservation and go elsewhere for a more enjoyable dinner

      4 Replies
      1. re: sodabreeze

        I couldn't disagree more. Funny but the two dishes you mentioned are my husband's and my favorites. The bouillabaisse is generally what my husband orders. True, it's not made in a traditional manner but it's loaded with many different kinds of fish and the broth is excellent. He loves it. I typically like rich dishes and love their scallops and short ribs. I don't find the short ribs overpowering the scallops at all. We usually pair both of these dishes with a good Savignon Blanc and I think you definitely need a wine that can cut through the richness of the short ribs. Maybe the wine is what makes this dish work so well for me. I find that the sweetness of the scallops is a nice counterpoint to the ribs.

        It is a little close but doesn't seem too loud. We've never felt that we couldn't have a good conversation either when it's two of us or when we're in a bigger group. We usually sit in the front area so maybe that makes a difference. It's not like you're bumping elbows with your neighbors.

        So, we love it there.

        1. re: Carole

          Thanks for the responses. We're still going to give it a try. After looking at their menu online I really wanted to try the scallops and short ribs. Thanks, Carole, for the wine suggestion. Hopefully, our experience is closer to yours than sodabreezes. I'll certainly report back.

          1. re: cjc519

            Another wine to try with the scallops and shortribs would be a dry Reisling. That works really well with many kinds of foods.

            1. re: Carole

              Thanks! Looking forward to it!

      2. We went very recently, and our bottom line was "good," but not our favorite in the (Main LIne) neighborhood. There is no decor to speak of, and the hard wooden chairs are slippery and uncomfortable. The noise level is high. The amuse was the size of a blueberry--so small that I have no idea what it tasted like. My salad was bland, and I wasn't offered freshly ground pepper until I was almost done. I liked my salmon, but wished that there had been more than just a taste of the accompanying artichoke. The beignet dessert was good and very generously sized, but a tad greasy. Decaf coffee was bad. Service was pleasant, but rushed. We might go back because we live so close, but I wouldn't consider it a destination restaurant, much less number 3 in Philadelphia!

        2 Replies
        1. re: vicarious

          We went for our dinner on Wednesday as planned and I have to say that it was good... not great. We arrived at our reservation time and the place was packed. We waited at least 5 or so minutes for someone to even acknowledge that we were there. No hello, we'll be right with you, or anything. Not a huge deal, but it kind of felt like we were intruding or something. We finally got seated and our table was pretty bad. We were seated right near the bathrooms and kitchen. Again, not the end of the world... maybe we should've specified that we'd like to sit in the front (per Carole's post). Service was pretty slow and very unenthusiastic. At one point we were given our wine glasses only to have them taken away to give to another table. Pretty annoying. Why were our glasses taken to accomodate another table? There were other tables who had not used their glasses yet. We were also told we could spread out (they gave us another table), and as soon as we did the hostess came to inform us they needed it back. Turns out the reservation had come in with one additional person to their party. Again, not a huge deal in and of itself, but put together with everything else it was not good service in my opinion. The amuse was some kind of lemon foam with a radish. The lemon was very overpowering. My friend ordered the foie gras appetizer special. It was very good. It was grilled and served over an apple mixture. I ordered the parmesan panna cota which was decent. Entrees.... scallops and short ribs which were pretty good and a fish entree which at the moment escapes me. I do remember that my friend said it was good, but a small portion. Dessert was the creme brulee which we split and both felt was too cold. Overall, I thought it was ok. I don't think I would rush back when I can think of quite a few other byos that are much better. I really did go there excited to try it out (despite some negative comments here), but it doesn't live up to it's hype.

          1. re: cjc519

            Thanks for reporting back on your experience. I was sure hoping it had kept up with my prior experiences there.

            We're going with a large group at the end of the month for a special occasion so we'll see how it goes.

        2. Went to Blackfish last night. The place was packed at 7:30 on a Monday night. We arrived a few minutes early and our table was ready and waiting. There wasn't a host/hostess at the station to greet us, but our arrival was noticed and someone came to take our coats and seat us. I agree with another posting - this place is quite loud and, while not all the tables are on top of each other, we were basically sitting with our neighbors.

          Our meal was paced quite well, if a little slow. The meal got off to a bit of a rocky start with the amuse: carrot gelee with peas and thyme. Just because you can turn carrots into carrot gelee, doesn't mean you should. This play on peas and carrots need not be attempted again!

          Our firsts were the grilled romaine/beet salad and the agnolloti in brown butter/sage. The meat filling in the agnolloti had a pleasing intensity and the nutty butter sauce matched well, however I thought the salad presented a greater array of flavors, nicely balancing sweet, salty, and smoky in every bite. Our seconds were the roasted duck and the surf and turf, which seems to be a rather controversial dish on this thread. While each of the main ingredients was well prepared (the duck was a tender medium rare, scallops perfectly seared, I agree braised short rib was overpowering in a combination dish, it would have been better on its own plate), I believe Blackfish excels at side dishes. The sunchoke puree that came with duck and the parsnip puree with surf and turf were both incredibly smooth, creamy, and intensely flavored by their main ingredient. For dessert we shared the beignets, which seemed to be what everyone else was ordering. They were very hot, freshly fried, and basically a vehicle for the caramel and creme anglaise dipping sauces that came with them.

          Overall we had an enjoyable experience. We decided it was the best mall food we've had so far. The bill came to $100 for two and we both left quite full. I don't know if we would make a point to dine again at Blackfish, but it's a good option after an afternoon of shopping on the way back to the city.

          1. My fiance and I went here on Saturday and we really regretted it! We had the same two dishes someone else on here said they shared with his/her significant other: the surf and turf--shortribs and scallops and the bouillabaisse. Both were the most disappointing meals we had in a long here is what we thought...
            Surf and Turf: the shortrib had no flavor whatsoever, it just tasted "meaty" the sauce that covered the outside was "gooey" almost had like a burnt wine aftertaste to it...strange right? that's what we thought. The scallops were overcooked, not done right but the potato-mash they were sitting on was good.

            Bouillabaisse: One of the worst choices that night. The broth was warm--seemed as if it was sitting. The broth was bland-what kind of broth did the chef use?--fish bones? chicken? There was no sweetness--and I feel as if they must have left out the saffron as it was just plain bland. The crouton was the best part of this dish.

            Foie Gras with nectarine: Very disappointing foie gras-it came to us warm as it was pan seared but it was "over" seared as the outer layer had a bitter taste. It was melted--on top of one small round petit toast with 3 tiny slices of nectarine. Again, not enough flavor or sweetness to balance the dish.

            The creme brulee: was fantastic...plain vanilla creme brulee and the coffee was strong and enjoyable.

            Ambiance was wonderful...noisey but seemed very laid back. Service was ok but when we told the server our bouillebaisse was luke warm and "ok" it's not good at all...she said "oh that's a shame! everyone else likes it so that's the first I've heard of this"....I'd like to add that it was so awful we didn't eat it AT ALL. We left 5 full mussels 2 clams, the filet of fish--there was 1 shrimp and I ate that...I mean the dish was full. Now I don't ask to have things taken off checks but we felt it was unfair for us to pay for that dish....

            Anyways, we'll never go back...if we are in that area we would rather go to the byo across the street for Thai.

            And yes, we left hungry--by the time we finished our wonderful red Magnificat (Franciscan) Chiang Mai was closed and we wished it were open....

            Our meal came to about $118 including an 18% tip (i've been a server and couldn't give less). So if you try it..good luck.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Pheebee

              Coincidentally, I ate at Blackfish last Saturday too. While I wouldn't give it a rave review, overall, I enjoyed my meal. For the most part, you and I did not have the same things, so maybe I just made some lucky choices. I had the tomato and mozzarella salad, swordfish, and a large cheese plate. I had a little taste of the ribs about which you complained and found them very tender and tasty. Service was about what I've come to expect at most BYOBs (informal, friendly, but a little rough around the edges). With respect to the tip, I was a little surprised to see that a 20% gratuity had been added to the tab for my party of five. I didn't see anything about that on the menu, so it would have been nice if they had alerted me to it.

              1. re: Pheebee

                I'm surprised because I have eaten there several times and have never left there less than satisfied. I have had the Bouillabaisse more than once and found it perfect, but the server should have taken it back into the kitchen and had it at least re-made or taken off he check for you.
                Maybe it was an off night. I've always been impressed by them.