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Saturday, February 3, 2018

A couple of fish tales from here and there: At The Lambs Club and Seafood Gourmet

My $29 three-course Restaurant Week lunch at The Lambs Club in Manhattan on Thursday included one of the best fish dishes I've ever had, Icelandic Cod Loin with Roasted Vegetables and Miso Sauce, above. My starter was a Tuscan Kale Salad with Radicchio, Crispy Parmesan and Caesar Dressing, below.




During the semi-annual NYC Restaurant Week promotion, menus are awash with that old standby, farmed Atlantic salmon.

Cheap, artificially colored and usually raised on harmful antibiotics, farmed salmon doesn't have the eye appeal or robust taste of its wild cousins.

But Manhattan restaurants taking part in the promotion charge only $29 for a three-course lunch, plus tax, tip and beverages -- often less than the price of an a la carte entree -- so they turn to farmed salmon to cut their losses.

Barbetta, Charlie Palmer at The Knick, Toloache, Becco and Victor's Cafe, to name a handful, offered entrees of farmed salmon to non-meat eaters like me. 

So this week and last, I searched the NYC Restaurant Week site for other restaurants in or near the Theater District that served wild-caught fish, and had a delicious lunch at two, Esca and The Lambs Club.

The Lambs Club Icelandic Cod Loin entree I loved was listed on the a la carte menu for $35. My $29 three-course lunch cost a total of $37.37 with tax and a 20% tip.

Once I ate the frisee salad on the plate with my main course at The Lambs Club, I found the Icelandic Cod Loin had been placed over a stack of crisp-tender roasted vegetables. The perfect entree: Heart-healthy fish, vegetables and salad.
My dessert was a trio of Sorbets
A small loaf of spongy bread, perfect for soaking up the extra-virgin olive oil I asked for instead of butter.
The Lambs Club restaurant is in The Chatwal, a hotel at 132 W. 44th St. in Manhattan, where the Art Deco-inspired lobby is a feast for the eyes, above and below.

Last Saturday night at Seafood Gourmet in Maywood, my wife ordered this wonderful dinner special, Grilled Chilean Sea Bass served with a Roasted Pepper Sauce, Smoked Gouda Cheese and Spinach Orzo ($28). The piece of fish I tasted was perfectly cooked -- moist and flaky.
I ordered another special, Seared Wild Salmon served over a Salad of Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Onion and Arugula in a Roasted Garlic Oil ($27). The fish didn't looked seared, and it came to the table overcooked (I asked for it medium). And there was far too much garlic-oil dressing for the salad.

 At Seafood Gourmet

I keep on striking out at Seafood Gourmet, the no-frills restaurant for fresh seafood behind a Maywood fish market.

I appreciate the chef's imaginative preparations, but have found that the fish and lobster I ordered were overcooked, even when I asked for a lighter touch.

Last Saturday night, my wife ordered an extraordinary Chilean Sea Bass entree, which was served with a small bowl of delicious Lobster Bisque.

I, on the other hand, fell for what was described as "Seared Wild Salmon," but what I got was a pale, skinless-boneless filet that didn't taste like wild fish at all.

Plus, I asked for it cooked "medium" and it came to the table cooked through.

Wild or farmed?

A few days later, I called the market to ask whether the wild salmon listed on the specials menu and displayed in a refrigerated case had been previously frozen, and where it was from.

It didn't have the deep red-orange color of raw sockeye, so I thought it might have been Pacific king salmon (also called chinook), the largest variety.

I was told the salmon wasn't previously frozen, and that it was wild and from New Zealand.

But when I looked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch site, I could find only farmed king salmon from New Zealand.

The small, no-frills dining room at Seafood Gourmet is often crowded, and dinner reservations are recommended. Website: The Restaurant at Seafood Gourmet

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