Yeah, yeah, we all know the dangers of Yelp--let people vote on things and you can easily end up in a heap of Bush (especially if the Supreme Court helps out, so that might not be the best example). But it's sort of fascinating when a restaurant can average 4 stars but then you read the ratings and it's a mish-mash of 2s and 5s. Sometimes it's an obvious thing--people go in with the wrong expectations, and then blame the place for their own ignorance of what the place does ("well, sure, I heard Father's Office insists no substitutions, but I was sure they didn't mean that for me" writes the addled 1-star reviewer). But sometimes everyone simply disagrees, as the very same dish veers from delish to disaster in back-to-back write-ups. Perhaps this means the place isn't consistent. Perhaps it means some people have no idea what good food is.
That's all preparation for a discussion of Arch Rock Fish, where we dined last night using a TravelZoo voucher. And it was good. Not everything blew us away, but it certainly wasn't the occasional pan it's received on Yelp. The fish was certainly fresh--it better have been as Chryss went with the seared Ahi, the center of the cut red-going-to-purple. That was just what you want seared ahi to be--a bit of a cliched dish at this point, but it's earned its cliche-ness by being so rewarding and straightforward and fish on its way to steakhood. I had a grilled wild bass that truly tasted grilled (ah, some smokiness to the fish's fat) and what probably was some coriander salt that played well with the salsa fresco spiked with plenty of fresh cilantro. There was also a bit of green olive almost a hummus that I wanted more of--the dab needed to be more of a dollop as its earthy brine complemented the fish's sea brine well. But it was one tasty dish.
Most of all, I want to praise the clam chowder that if it had any flour in it it hid it well. This was super rich with clam chunks but also lots of bacon, and it was hard to distinguish the two by sight, but the stomach didn't care. Think of it as pork of the sea. In a cup!
I've been a bit slow to embrace Arch Rock Fish as it felt, to me, caught amongst being corporate and chic and comfortable and therefore never quite doing any of the three, but it won't take a TravelZoo deal to get me in next time. Even better, I won't be locked into the Walnut Crest Pinot Grigio (which was surprisingly ok) as my wine choice (the Deep Sea Viognier at $36 is a pretty good deal).