FISH by Jose Andres at MGM National Harbor: the REEL Deal!

You know I enjoy my own cooking and don’t do a whole lot of fine dining out, but this place was an experience definitely worth sharing with you. 

FISH by Jose Andres is one of the fine dining restaurants at the National Harbor’s newest attraction, MGM.  Very easy to get in and out of, this was my first visit to the new grandeous construction down on the waterfront, which has really built up nicely over the last few years.  It ain’t Vegas, and that’s not the purpose of this review, but I will say it’s worth the trip if you want a great seafood dinner experience in the area.  We went to MGM for a show and didn’t know where we’d land for dinner before hand, but I’m glad we hooked a table at FISH (they had a cancellation and we got lucky – you need a reservation if you want to guarantee a table and the bar seating filled up the minute they opened).

The decor submerges you in an ocean feel without being schmaltzy.  The staff is swift and light-footed around a crowded entrance and bustling bar.  The hostess led us to a table in the floor-to-ceiling window area, which felt like sitting atop a ship’s bow. But not cheesy.  Our waiter was delightfully attentive and enjoyed talking about the restaurant’s concept and the innovative drink menu. Not knowing what we wanted to drink, we defaulted to nice glass of champagne (which goes with everything, see prior blog about bubbles).

I didn’t need to leave the first page of fresh-from-the-seafood-bar offerings and a selection of designer raw oysters. I was thoroughly intrigued by the play on gin and tonic and decided on that one.

The waiter explained how they do this – they actually make a gin and tonic drink, foam it up, and dollop it on the deep-shelled Kusshi Oyster.  So fun!!

Don’t try to slurp it all at once or you’ll choke on the foam, which I almost did on the first one, but for the second one, I tried a different approach.  You have to tongue the foam and let it dance around on your taste buds, lingually scooping out about half of it before taking the deep dive to the oyster. Sorry, I know, but come on, if you don’t get a little turned on by food, we probably wouldn’t be friends now, would we?  Anyways, this was a very fun play on cocktails and oysters and I’m definitely going to try something like this at home.

Our next dish sounded great: the tuna tartar.  

Little did we know, words would not be able to capture what came out – a tableside preparation! From deconstructed to blissfully blended (but not so much that you couldn’t still taste all the flavors) chunks of amazingly fresh raw tuna with carefully selected fixings. I love raw tuna.  And I love tableside preparation, so I’m going to spend a minute here. It brings you into the heart of the chef, how she/he wants you to see the love that goes into the dish, the ingredients that are thoughtfully arranged and then comingled to form the perfect tastes, textures, and culinary experience. Doing anything tableside shows confidence and grace, you can’t muck it up in front of the customers (on the other hand, I abide by the mantra “what happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen”).  So this dish came out in a beautiful presentation of a mis-en-place, awaiting its maker to put it all together in its meticulously planned ensemble.

The server explained each item as I gazed in awe. I’m pretty sure a drop of drool may have escaped my lips. Look at those perfectly luscious cubes of tuna!  The egg yolk was surrounded by a creamy mustard sauce with delicate anchovies and rock sea salt, just waiting their turn to get in the mix.  He quickly scooped everything together and tossed the flavors into a delicious oblivion.

We had buttery soft rolls to use as a vessel for carrying the tender tuna tartar.  Like super fancy sliders, the slick seafood slid right down. Delicious!! I think I could have had this appetizer for my meal. Probably could have been entirely satiated at this point, but our waiter described the special – a she crab coup – and it sounded pretty great to round out the dinner.  Another tableside presentation!!

Beginning with just some deliciously sweet fresh crab and sautéed tender greens with garlic lamberts, the broth was poured atop by our server. 

The liquid pooled around the crab and greens mounds with expert viscosity. It built around the crab and greens like a fortress, flavors so rich but yet still soft enough to protect the delicate crabmeat and its subtlety.

Our experience was great at Fish – from service and ambiance to presentation and taste, it was a lovely dining experience. Great work Chef Andres!

#finedining #seafood #rawbar #culinarycreativity #champagne #oysters #tunatartar #crab

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