Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mitchell's Fish Market at St. John's Town Center

Every time I’ve talked to others about whether they would recommend Mitchell’s Fish Market, I heard a very similar response: “It’s good, but be prepared to pay.” And who wouldn’t expect to pay more when the food is flown in fresh each day from destinations far and wide? So when my date, who is a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats seafood), asked me to choose a restaurant for the evening, I was slightly hesitant to suggest Mitchell’s until I looked at their menu online. What I found was a wide array of choices in seafood, as well as several great alternatives in poultry and steak, all in very reasonable prices that were comparable to any other restaurant I would see fit for such an occasion. When I called ahead to make a reservation, I was told that while it wasn’t required, it was a good idea in case the restaurant got very busy and was assisted very politely and professionally.

Upon arriving, I found that the restaurant was indeed popular, but not so much that we needed to wait to be accommodated, and was immediately impressed with the décor and atmosphere. We were led to a cozy booth and were greeted by our server shortly afterwards, who was very pleasant in bringing us our water and bread as he gave us time to choose a bottle of wine from the extensive wine list and look over the menu.

After settling on a nice bottle of Pinot Noir (I know it doesn’t necessarily go with seafood, but we were in the mood for a nice red), we went back and forth over what to order – there were that many excellent choices. Having looked over the menu online, I was reasonably certain I would order the blue crab and shrimp in an alfredo sauce over penne pasta – until I learned of the prix fixe menu. Both my date and I elected to go with this option, but went different routes to have the option to share. She ordered the Summer Broiled Shrimp and Scallops over a summer vegetable succotash and garlic-herb red skin potatoes, while I chose the Lobster and Shrimp over Pappardelle pasta with asparagus and summer tomatoes in a white wine sauce.

Our house salads were delivered promptly, and it was an excellent blend of carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, pine nuts, and dates (what a nice surprise!) with a fantastic poppy-seed vinaigrette – I will now be looking for a similar vinaigrette next time I go to the store, it was that good. The dates added a nice contrast to the rest of the salad, bringing just a little sweetness to balance the acidity of the dressing. Following our salads, our main courses were delivered in a very reasonable timeframe, but hers brought about our only disappointment of the evening – the succotash included bacon (not mentioned on the menu). I know many succotash recipes include bacon, but we both felt this should have been listed in the description, especially at a seafood restaurant. Rather than cause a scene and to alleviate the guilty feeling my date was already feeling, I switched entrees with her and we both happily enjoyed our new meals.

On mine, the shrimp was broiled to perfection on skewers with whole cloves of garlic and laid over the bed of succotash. I enjoyed the bits of bacon in the succotash, which gave an otherwise plain accompaniment a nice twist of flavor, and found the garlic-herb red skin potatoes to be seasoned very appropriately. In the few bites my date was gracious enough to offer of my ‘old’ dish, I found the lobster and shrimp over pasta in white wine sauce to be wonderful. With just the right amount of garlic and herbs, this dish really let the seafood be the star – I only wish I would have gotten more, but was more than happy to be the gentleman to make both of us happy.

Following our entrees, dessert was served to round out our prix fixe menus. I had ordered the strawberry shortcake, while she had ordered the vanilla crème brulee, so we had plenty to share. We both found the crème brulee to be satisfactory, but there wasn’t much that stood out about it. I liked the taste that was somewhat reminiscent of a roasted marshmallow, but it certainly wasn’t the best thing about our meal. The strawberry shortcake was definitely better, with fresh strawberries, a dallop of vanilla ice cream over a shortcake that had a faint lemon flavor – clearly the winner between the two desserts.

Overall, dinner at Mitchell’s was a success and I would not hesitate to go back or to suggest Mitchell’s to a friend. The service was excellent without being overbearing, with the only gaffe being when the waiter delivered another tables to-go box to our table, but this was quickly corrected without incident. I firmly believe Mitchell’s so-called reputation for being overpriced to be incorrect – good food and good service at a reasonable price changed my mind. Anyone looking for a great restaurant for a nice occasion should walk in confidently knowing they will get their moneys worth.

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