Fishing for compliments

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Fishing for compliments

Fish & Co. in Festival Centre is a charming seafood restaurant that believes in high-value offerings. Definitely nothing fishy about it, And probably serves the best fish and chips in town

By Sushmita Bose

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Published: Fri 31 Aug 2012, 10:06 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:56 PM

On a sunny afternoon, the gleaming waterfront by Festival Centre almost imparts a Seattle-ish feel to the balmy settings around Dubai Festival City. There is something about the waterfront and seafood — it’s an implicit gastronomic link and, for reasons of high drama, there is an immediate indexing to Sleepless in Seattle (especially when Tom Hanks canters up the wooden pier) meets Pike Place Market (where fish flings are so much in evidence).

The imagery soon becomes a blur as I settle down in the cool, comfortable environs of Fish & Co., overlooking the warm water body, to figure out if I’m about to get hooked.

The Singapore-headquartered restaurant chain offers “seafood in a pan” (for the mains, that is, not the starters, in case you were wondering if you’d be served prawn cocktail in a pan): aesthetically, that’s a hands-down winner — it just looks so, er, cosy, like the food is being ferried across to you straight from the honest-to-God kitchen fire.

Fish & Co. goes the whole hog when it comes to choices from the seven seas. Anything you might want to bait is there. The produce is fresh, and the restaurant resolutely refuses to use cold-storaged stuff that may have lost its punch. Combine freshness with Oriental style of cooking (read: not too greasy, rarely overdone, the flavours bursting at the seams sans the artifice, a medley of subtle in-house sauces), and it really doesn’t get any better.

The one crib could be that the food is, true to its name, too fishy so if there is someone in a group of diners who’s not crazy about — or is allergic to — the category, there could be a slight problem (although I am told that Fish & Co. will be including more and more non-seafood items just so nobody feels left out).

Take my case. I’m not exactly a seafood enthusiast so my options were whittled down. As my luncheon companions gushed over how good the squids were and how exquisite the calamari tasted, I stolidly focused on the salmon, the dory, the prawns and the lobsters. But it took me only a few minutes to earmark the standouts.

The fish and chips was the best I had had in a very, very long time; the prawn cocktail was lip-smacking; the seafood platter (from which I ate selectively given my disposition) was incredibly varied and, yes, fulfilling; the grilled lobster was no-fuss — yet smooth and deliciously rich… I could go on, but the restaurant staffers inform that the menu is reinvented every now and then — and I am already looking forward to my next round of fishing. I’m even contemplating becoming a more adventurous eater and going fishing next time without my mental safety net.

Fish & Co.’s tagline reads: “One bite and you’re hooked”. Well, I’m not just hooked; I’ve fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

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