By Judi Curry
Bay Park Fish Company
4121 Ashton Street
San Diego, CA
(619) 276-3474 (FISH)
One of my best friends from Massachusetts is visiting me right now, and she wanted to take me out to dinner. Her 27 year old son is with her, and he said he would really like to have some fresh fish, so I called my daughter and asked her for suggestions as to where to go. Her recommendation was the Bay Park Fish Company right off of Morena Blvd., (next to Siesal’s Meat Market) and after checking to see if they were open on Monday night – they were – we made plans to eat dinner there. Unfortunately, her son Dan was not feeling well so just Susan and I went alone.
It is certainly a non-pretentious looking place. The bar area is nicely furnished, and the restaurant is rather non-descript. We wondered if we were going to have trouble because when we walked in the hostess asked us how many in our party. We said “two”. She said “would you mind if I clean off this table before seating you.” We said “no” but Susan pointed out that there were several vacant tables that were set up for two. But she said she wanted us to sit at the other table. She and a busboy proceeded to clean up the table – it was set for six – and then she broke it down into a table for four and a table for two.
While she was setting up the table, a couple came in and we began talking to them. It turned out that they were in a party of six, and when the hostess told us that our table was ready, Susan mentioned to her that the couple behind us was part of a party of six. She then took us to one of the tables that Susan had pointed out earlier, and put the original table back to seating six people. We wondered if this was going to be a bad omen. Fortunately it was not.
We were served water – with lemon – almost immediately, and our drink order was asked for. Because I was driving I declined anything, and I think that Susan also declined BECAUSE I was driving. But I want to say something about the extensive wine menu – with only one exception – a Pinot Noir, 2009 Freja from Willamette Valley ($39), every other wine was offered by the bottle or by the glass. That is a very nice touch and I would imagine more glasses of wine are purchased than places that do not have this offering. In addition to the wine, beer and sake are also on the menu, along with a few specialty drinks and regular beverages.
The menu was interesting and had many different selections to choose from, beginning with “Starters” from $10-18; Two “Soups” – $5 for a cup; $8 for a bowl; Salads, ranging from $7-12; “Crispy” – beginning with Fish and Chips for $12 and Halibut and Chips for $14; “Tacos” from $10- $18 – Lobster tacos was the $18 fare; Tortas from $10-13; Entrees from $15-28; “Kiddie Plate”s were available; There was an extensive Sushi menu; Specials of the Day, etc.
It was interesting to note that they had halibut on the menu cooked 4-5 different ways. (I went to purchase some Halibut a few weeks ago and found it was $26 a pound.) I couldn’t believe that their Halibut and Chips was $14; the Macadamia crusted halibut was $28; the grilled halibut that was the special for the day was $24, and was served with fresh vegetables and rice. And yet there was one more halibut offering – for $15, no less, and it was billed as “halibut wrapped around rice.”’
We started out by ordering two “starters” – ceviche and Kung Pao Style Calamari. I was a little puzzled by the calamari, because we had our choice of “Crispy or Kung Pao Calamari” and chose the Pao. But it was very crispy as well.
After we were served I asked Mia, the waitress, what the difference between the two were and she said they were both crispy – but one was with a lime mint dipping sauce and the other was tossed in spicy kung pao sauce. I think that should have been noted on the menu, because both were fried, and we might have ordered something else if we had known the pao was also fried. None-the-less, both were excellent; served beautifully; and were delicious. The two appetizers could easily have been a meal, but we had already decided what we wanted to eat and opted to take home half of each appetizer.
Susan ordered the Halibut special of the day. It was beautifully served; the vegetables were tasty and crisp. The halibut, albeit a bit dry, was very tasty and the serving was larger than we expected. The accompanying rice was average; nothing special to report. I had the bacon-wrapped scallops in an apricot glaze, served with garlic mashed potatoes, and fresh vegetables. I could find fault with none of it. The presentation was delightful; the glaze to die for; the scallops cooked to perfection. The cost was $28 and in my book a little pricey, but well worth the expense. (In fact, if someone else were paying, I’d order it again!)
We knew that we were beyond full, but decided to try one of the 3 desserts offered. We chose the “homemade peach cobbler” because Mia told us it was made at the restaurant. It was, at best, good. It was served with vanilla ice cream, and a little too much of it. The peaches were canned – we expected this – and in some places the crust was crisp but in other places it was soggy. I think that is because of the ice cream piled so high. I would have liked to have tasted the cobbler more than the ice cream. We left almost half of it.
I can’t end this review without mentioning several other things. First of all, we were not served any traditional bread and butter nor was anyone else. I really think that the owners want you to eat and enjoy their food and do not want you to fill up on “fillers” before the meal.
Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable about the food on the menu. Whatever we asked about she knew the answer. This impressed both Susan and me. I only wish she had smiled a little more. But Todd, the assistant server more than made up for the lack of Mia’s smile. He was friendly; joked with us; made us feel very welcome. When he asked if there was anything else he could bring us and I told him that “ . . . I was looking for a man . . . “ he told us he’d look around and see if he could find one. (Alas, he didn’t find one, but he told me he’d keep on looking.)
And the final touch that was nice was at the bottom of the bill. Already calculated for us was how much a 15%, 20%, and/or a 25% tip should be. That saved a lot of mental anguish for these two women.
All in all the meal was excellent. The cost was $66 without the tip. It was well worth the cost, and would be a place that I might go again for a celebratory meal. The fish was fresh, well cooked, and presented well. It was a totally enjoyable evening. To find out more, click here.