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Mar 24, 2008 12:56 PM

Fish in PDX?

We're on our way to Portland this weekend, and would love to find a great fish restaurant that's more in the upscale/local/sustainable vein, as opposed to a greasy fish-and-chips sort of place. Any new places that do a great job with fish?

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  1. Virtually all the upscale restaurants in town feature fresh seafood entrees, although "local" fish is for the most part a non-starter. I've seen Halibut pop up at a few places in the last week or two, which I love. If there is a "local" fish to be touted it would be salmon, which unfortunately is not in season. With that said, I don't think you'll have any problems finding something tasty at any one of the usual suspects.

    1. An old Portland standby downtown is Jake's Crawfish, 12th and Stark. Have had a lot of good meals there, they will have whatever is fresh and local.

      2 Replies
      1. re: duck833

        I took my parents to Jake's a few months ago and was horribly disappointed and embarassed (I actually regretted not just taking them to South Park which was my first instinct). And I used to love this place since it's a Portland institution. The service was mediocre, the two types of fish we had were not fresh and the restaurant overall seemed dirty. I hope they can pull it together because there are so few old Portland restaurants left.

      2. Alberta Street Oyster Bar and Grill.
        Get the escolar if they have it and the steak tartar w/bone marrow toast is a must have as well.

        11 Replies
        1. re: quovadis

          Clyde Common usually has a great fish dish on as well

          1. re: gal4giants

            I'm a big fan of the fish at Clyde, but be forewarned that it's served whole. This is my preferred method of serving fish, but I know some diners might be off-put by whole fish.

            1. re: SauceSupreme

              Why do you prefer the fish whole SS?
              What benefit do you find from having the head and tail on the plate?
              Or is more an aesthetic thing for you?
              I'm just curious, thanks.

              1. re: Mallory

                I've been eating whole fish my entire life, so it's a bit ingrained, but it's only now as an adult that I've begun to fully appreciate it. In addition to the personal philosophical reasons (which are worthy of a separate thread), there are a lot of flavor-based reasons.

                I find that that whole fish gives me access to the two most flavorful parts of a fish: the collar and the belly.

                Then the fish skin imparts a wonderful flavor onto the fish meat. When the fish is filet'ed, the part of the meat that used to be protected by the bone on one side and the skin on the other is now exposed to a lot more heat. With a large fish this is not a problem since it would take a long time to penetrate the whole filet anyway, but for a single serving dinner portion? I'd rather eat a whole small fish than a filet of a large fish.

                Related to the fact that the skin is there, you can get away with using less butter and oil. You can still impart herbal or citric flavors, but you'll be able to taste the natural fish oil.

                It's quite evident to see that the guys at Clyde Common are fans of St. Johns and the whole snout-to-tail philosophy. It's quite common to find offal on the menu (in fact, just this week, they started offering head cheese and spicy mustard as an appetizer).

                And that aspect is true with the fish as well. In addition to their whole fish prep for a dinner entree, they even offer whole fried anchovies as an appetizer. They're about the same width and twice the length as your thumb, and having grown up on the Chesapeake Bay, it was a such a great nostalgic taste of my youth to be able to pick up one up and chomp on the whole thing like a salty French fry.

                1. re: SauceSupreme

                  Interesting. Thanks for the illumination on something that I've always to some degree frowned upon. I'll have to give it a try sometime. The flavor-based reasons are compelling. Also of note is using less butter which is always attractive (no pun intended)

                  1. re: Mallory

                    One place to go to help ease you into the world of whole fish, paradoxically, is a sushi bar. All sushi chefs get a whole fish and while they'll serve slices off of the filet for their nigiri, they also have the collar (also known as kama) and everyone already knows about the fatty part of the belly (also known as toro).

                    Here in Portland, my favorite old style Japanese izakaya is Syun out there in Hillsboro, right by the MAX stop.

                    1. re: SauceSupreme

                      Oh, I do love Sushi! I have not been to the place in Hillsboro, but will give it a try. What I meant about frowning upon was that I typically lose interest when I hear the fish is served whole. I am now reconsidering that. Thanks.

                      1. re: Mallory

                        I wouldn't place Syun on my top 5 sushi places, much less Japanese in general places. Hardly worth the drive. I guess were I in Hillsboro and hungry I'd go. Otherwise, not exactly destination dining, IMHO.

                        1. re: Leonardo

                          I agree that it isn't destination dining, but a bar should never have to be destination dining, and that's what I mean about calling it an old style izakaya. I love that it retains the feel of a neighborhood watering hole, and the fact that it's a Japanese pub means that you can get yellowtail collar and other izakaya faire in addition to toro nigiri and other sushi items.

              2. re: SauceSupreme

                Somewhere I went recently (not CC) they kept warning everyone that the fish was served whole. Apparently people were really freaked out by it for some reason. This was fairly soon after we came back from Naples, where the servers were convinced that we were missing the best part because we didn't eat the eyes of our fish.

                1. re: Nettie

                  Oh I had a terrible experience at Jake's. The staff where rude, it took for ever, the crawfish were FULL of eggs and it was just a complet dissappointment from start to end, the end was the best part-leaving!