Restaurant Talk: The Fish

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • UPDATE: We ate at Fish a few months after the “open/close snafu review” and now we are regulars. Love, Love, Love Fish. Ditto on the crabmeat hush puppies!! Can’t get enough. Coconut Shrimp is also great. I am a creature of habit but, Hubby likes so many things on the menu including the Fish Tacos, I won’t even go down that road. The staff is so friendly and professional! If you haven’t tried them yet, get in there.

  • Dana, thanks for letting me know. I dont even mind just a salad but an entree size one. I felt he did not care or even offer to make it bigger for me which I would have paid for. I will go again. Thanks

  • the side salad is now big plate size, and delicious. the owner told me he would make a vegan friendly rice and bean, but needs notice to have it ready…..he did not want to serve me fake vegan (creole style beans as served on menu have leaned against pork for flavoring)

    try him again with a little warning. he might surprise you.

  • Cool vibe but needs beer and wine to complete the effect
    I had the snapper and the lady had coconut shrimp. No room for dessert this time but food was very good.

  • My husband wanted to try the fish tacos on our date night last week. I am a vegetarian and have been to many meat heavy places, steak houses etc… I was told by the owner that it was a fish house like I was stupid or something. Yes I know it is a fish house but I can go to 20 Feet in East Dallas (delicious and veg friendly) or any other fish house and they at least have a salad. The little $2 side salad was not going to cut it as an entree. I was disappointed as I want something to succeed in that space but alias I dont think he will unless he learns customer service and who lives around him. We live in walking distance but I wont be walking that way.

  • ‘TSY’ I am so sorry for the communication snafu…We are open 11 am through 10 pm Mon – Sat, but we are currently closed on Sunday. I am hoping to open Sundays in late September / early October. Our telephone # is 214 942-6000; please feel free to ask for myself (Christopher Stanford) when you call. I hope to see you very soon…

  • Food is truly delicious! I’ve eaten there twice in the last several weeks. Service is not quite there yet, but getting better. Additionally, Chris is an Oak Cliff resident, so I really hope this place takes off for him! It will be good for him and great for our neighborhood!

  • I don’t think they have any kind of web presence, and I haven’t been able to find a phone number either, but I am planning to go back and check on their hours.

  • Does anyone know how to contact this place? Can’t find a phone #, facebook page, etc. Want to find out if they’re open before driving up there.

  • I ate there a few days ago. Service was attentive and the coconut shrimp was great although it needed just a touch more coconut. My ramekin of creamy chipotle sauce had been sitting in a fridge for awhile as it was dry around the edges. I’d prefer plain chopped chiptole in adobo sauce in a ramekin as it’s a nice spicy sidekick to the sweetness of the shrimp. The sweet potato fries were perfect. Interior definitely needs some creative touches but aside from that it was good food at reasonable prices, which is getting to be a rare thing these days in OC.

  • My husband and I tried to patronize them this weekend. I called on Saturday and was told the hours. But, when we got there on Sunday during the hours they gave me, they were closed. I really want this place work out but they have got to work out the bugs and for goodness sakes put up the hours of operation. Make it easy for folks to give you business.

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