The first encouraging sign was that the two men greeting us beaming broadly were the host and, we later learned, the executive chef. These guys were clearly happy. Business must be doing well.
The Fish Market opened only in February. We usually wait three months before reviewing, to let a place get its sea legs. But trustworthy foodie friends waxed enthusiastic, so a prompt visit was in order.
The Fish Market is a big, high-ceiling space, but the effect is pleasant. The bar divides the dining area from an actual fish market, where enterprising diners can purchase the raw ingredients to replicate dishes they enjoyed. You look around at an array of sea-blue tablecloths, a quiet nautical touch. A generous amount of fresh flowers is on each table. A big chalkboard for specials reminds us of the market motif.
The restaurant was the inevitable, eventual outcome of an Australian wholesale seafood brokerage, which owns fishing boats around the world, supplying restaurants but having none of their own. The president of Ocean Wave Seafoods, Jan Simon is based in East Greenwich, so the Fish Market is his baby, and we may eventually see others popping up.
That would be a touching humanitarian gesture if the lobster bisque I started with sets the standard. It’s $4.95 by the cup and $7.95 by the bowl, and the amount of lobster chunks in my cup — much more than a claw’s worth — would have been generous in a bowl. A bisque is a smooth soup of strained remnants, after all, and most places serve it with nary a detectable bit of lobster or crab. This version has the cream (not too much) and sherry in good balance, and was even more enjoyable with their nice and chewy sliced baguette.
They offer traditional Rhode Island-style calamari and their signature Fish Market calamari ($10.95). The latter had plenty of roasted red peppers and black olives as well as sliced cherry peppers and pepperoncini, but was dripping with oil, not our preferred preparation. I sampled a cocktail shrimp at the market counter, and the sauce was not overwhelmed by horseradish. Among the appetizers, they are $9.50 for a pound.
For the main course, I strongly considered having the lobster mac ’n’ cheese ($23.95), being big on both. But we decided to be good reviewer soldiers and make the tests more challenging.
My sushi-grade yellowfin tuna ($19.95) had been grilled on high heat, so the outer quarter inch was well done and the inside still raw, thereby medium rare as ordered. It came with jasmine rice and a cup of chowder, and my choice of clear rather than creamy was deliciously cloudy with clam broth. I asked for butter for my rice, and our waitress brought drawn butter, the dear.
Johnnie’s baked haddock was delicious, the large flakes breaking off into a broth tasty with white wine and rich with butter. The sautéed leaves of red and white cabbage on both our plates were just firm enough, and her Yukon gold mashed garlicked just right. The side salad was more than pro forma, with mesclun greens, several vegetable garnishes, and pleasantly sweet balsamic house dressing.