Sausalito, CA: You Can Feel Okay about Ordering the Beef at Fish
350 Harbor Drive, Sausalito CA 94965 (map); 415-331-FISH; 331fish.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: You could do a lot worse than this patty of beef served at a restaurant that specializes in fish. They just need a slightly less arid bun.
Want Fries with That? They come with it and they're good enough
Price: The Big Burger, with or without cheese, $14
Though it threatens my self-image as a true food geek, I have a difficult relationship with fish. I actually quite like the stuff when I order it, but it's as if a childhood aversion remains lodged somewhere in my brain, inducing a knee-jerk anticipation of an off-putting fishy funk that steers me towards other proteins when I contemplate a menu. The end result is that I only order seafood if I'm at a place where I'm sure it will be top quality.
This shouldn't be a problem at Fish*. The Sausalito restaurant specializes in serving up fresh, sustainable sea food. But even then, I'll admit I found myself a little pleased when I noticed that, for their non-piscine option, Fish offers up a hamburger made of Prather Ranch beef. Despite recognizing the incongruity of ordering beef at a restaurant named Fish, it didn't take much arm twisting for me to decide that I really needed to try this burger.
* They actually write the restaurant's name with a period (.) after the word fish. I have opted not to do that because, well, it's kind of a pain in the ass when it comes to writing clearly punctuated sentences.
The menu at Fish calls their hamburger "The Big Burger." By big, they mean a half-pound patty that they grill to order. My first bite told me this burger wouldn't reach the great heights of some of the Prather Ranch patties I've eaten, but you could also do a whole lot worse than this disc of quality beef. If the patty had gotten just a touch dry at the edges, it remained red and juicy at its center. The restraint in my enthusiasm springs mostly from the scale of the flavor offered by this patty—this burger was beefy, but not beefy.
I did also find the bun a bit dry for my taste. Though it eventually compacted sufficiently to achieve an acceptable burger-to-bun ratio, I needed to add a healthy serving of their Thousand Island dressing to both sides of the patty in order to combat the arid bread. Fish could have helped the situation by sticking the bun on the grill for a bit and then covering it in butter or mayo. Really, a little extra fat never hurt a burger. The juice from a few pickle slices might have helped as well, but they otherwise provide crisp lettuce, rings of red onion, and a melted slice of Spring Hill Organic cheddar.
The potatoes they serve at Fish achieve generic fry-ness. Relatively thin yellow sticks, they are mildly crisp, mildly salty, and you'll choose to eat them, but they don't make you sit up and take notice.
Sometimes restaurants tell you what they're good at, and I don't think Fish could have been any clearer than the name they chose for themselves. So it makes sense that there are little things I'd tweak when it comes to the preparation of their burger. But it's nice to know there's a good-enough non-fish option on their menu for those moments when my adult brain simply cannot quiet the squeamish seven-year-old that occasionally takes over my palate.
About the author: David Kover is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and food enthusiast. He occasionally gets his tweet on as @pizzakover.