The Fish is a new restaurant from Oak Cliff resident Christopher Stanford, at Jefferson and Polk. Stanford worked for 15 years at the Dream Cafe and later, in a seafood restaurant. Before The Fish opened Aug. 1, Stanford told us that making everything from scratch and making everything taste perfect was “a bad habit I learned at the Dream Cafe.”
This “bad habit” is in full effect at The Fish. Everything tastes great. Take the crab meat hush puppies, above, which are perfectly cooked and seasoned and packed with crab. We could eat the whole plate. The coleslaw, a menu item that too often is an afterthought, has perfect proportions, the cabbage stays slightly crispy and it’s not too wet.
I’ve been craving these fish tacos ever since I tried them. Buttery tilapia, tangy chipotle sauce, pico de gallo, lettuce and avocado on sturdy wheat tortillas. So delicious, and I like that it comes with red beans and rice. That classic Texan dish, sadly, is not stylish enough to appear on many menus nowadays.
The fried catfish tasted clean and was perfectly cooked. The tartar sauce is made in house.
While the food was near perfect, our service at The Fish was a bit awkward, presumably because Standford is a back-of-the-house man, and it can’t be easy to hire waitstaff pros for an upstart in an unproven location. Our waiter was friendly but dropped off the check before we had finished eating dinner. A food runner said nothing when she delivered our food, and when asked for tartar sauce, she brought back an appetizer plate covered in sauce, rather than a ramekin. Not a big deal, just a little unprofessional.
When we visited last week, the restaurant’s TABC license hadn’t come through, so it was BYOB. The new owner painted over Cafe Maya’s mural but otherwise hasn’t decorated much. The place looks empty compared to the previous concept in that space.
We hope The Fish works out its kinks, and we urge everyone to give it a try because I need those fish tacos to be around for a long time.