13 E. 1st St.
MARCH 1, 2013





Fishstick Night is often recalled as a happy time in childhood when attempts at nutrition were cast to the four winds, or in this case, the four seas, and the breaded flesh of an unidentified fish was heated, waved around, and eventually eaten, sometimes with a small wedge of lemon or a bit of ketchup.

For the most part, we were all eating cod or haddock, although I like to imagine one giant fish, who smiled down upon us from the Valhalla of the sea on that particular night. May it find eternal peace and not seek vengeance upon us, amen.

At Fishstique, we are all clearly not dining on the same sea creature: tilapia, wreckfish, halibut, perch, and skate grace the menu, as well as eel, escargot, crab, scallop, sea cucumber, normal land-cucumber, but there is the same overall sense of nostalgia for breaded creatures of the deep.

The breading itself is something that owner Michele Chen holds secret. It’s not panko, my guess would be some kind of sourdough ground in to the finest crumbs. But enough speculation: in addition to the traditonal lemon wedge there are signature variations of tartar sauces (sriracha, dill, chipotle, jalapeno lime, chutney, creme fraiche), accents (chopped caperberries, pickles, green olives, curry mayo), as well as oysters on the half shell and sashimi.

It’s delicious, in the same way that most breaded fish is delicious. You could fry Coleridge’s ancient mariner, long grey beard and all, and he would still taste like a run-of-the-freezer-aisle fishstick. What’s more important is that I’ve discovered no matter how good the food, no matter how elegant the surroundings, no matter how well-spoken the server and clientelle, no one — not even well-heeled food critics who attempt to maintain a towering facade of adulthood — can resist pretending that a fishstick is swimming along peacefully when suddenly a food-critic turned leviathan takes a bite out of it. And every fishstick is that much richer for this narrative.


Back: A. Pontious discovers the
Bearding Way at the Beardsmeal


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