Monday, April 4, 2011

Fathom Seafood House

Fathom Seafood House, the latest venture from Fish and Little Fish chef/owner Mike Stollenwerk, sits on the unlikely corner of Girard and Shackamaxon in Fishtown. It is, of course, totally appropriate to have a seafood restaurant in a neighborhood with so much fishy history, but Fishtown isn’t generally known for upscale dining. Fathom strikes a perfect balance with unique twists on quality ingredients.

Fathom is tiny, containing just a few tables surrounding the sleek and simple bar. The open kitchen lends a sense of continuity and homeiness, and the service corresponds. We arrived during happy hour and our bartender, Amy, worked with the cooks to whip up a couple of $4 oyster shooters spiked with hot sauce. I’ll be the first to admit that oysters make me a little nervous, but I want to like them, so I dove right in – and they were delicious. The other happy hour special is $2 PBR, and Fathom boasts a nice little draft list, including a line dedicated to Harpoon’s rare 100 Barrel series. Fathom’s cocktail list is small but smart, and includes a fantastic Lemon Basil drink, Mint Iced Tea, and a gin-and-grapefruit concoction called the Salty Dog.

Fathom offers several raw oyster selections from both coasts, accompanied by a trio of sauces. We started with Misty Point oysters from Virginia, which were large, plump, and deliciously briny. The New England Tomahawk oysters were slightly smaller and a little chewier, with a clean, bright finish. I ordered a few littleneck clams to follow the oysters; the first one was unusually small and slightly suspicious in flavor, but the others were beautifully, aggressively salty and slid right down with a touch of mignonette on top. We were enjoying our bivalves so much that we added a few of the fantastic salt-poached shrimp onto our order. They were gorgeous, large, tender and perfectly cleaned, with a mild flavor that was neither too briny nor too fishy.

We continued our odyssey through the menu with the lobster grilled cheese, a buttery sandwich of fresh, meaty lobster layered with melted Fontina. Seafood and cheese together can be tricky, but this was sheer heaven. The crispy sourdough did an admirable job holding and complementing the rich, gooey insides. I’ve been dreaming about this sandwich ever since our visit. We followed it with the slightly less memorable smoked marlin tacos; the flavor of the shredded fish was spot on, but the texture was just a little too creamy. I was hoping for more heat from the pickled jalapeños, but then again, I’m always wishing for more spice in my food.

Next came the Crab Louie: large hunks of incredibly fresh, chewy crab, tempura-battered and fried, served with a spicy aioli. The batter was light and crispy, not too greasy, and the flavor of the crab managed to shine right through. Amazing. The kitchen sent us some cod pierogies to round out the meal, a nice touch fit for the neighborhood’s Polish background. The dough was just a little on the dry side, but the cod was lovely, and the little half-moons were accented with sweet onions and bacon. Like so many of Fathom’s dishes, it was a smart, cheeky way to make Stollenwerk’s beautiful seafood a little more accessible.

Fishtown is a bit of a hike, but Stollenwerk and chef Rob Holloway have created a space worthy of a sketchy subway ride. I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the menu.

Fathom Seafood House
200 E Girard Ave
Philadelphia PA 19125

1 comment:

  1. This place is terrible, too loud, and everything is covered in a layer of congealing butter. No thanks.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...