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Affordable & Sustainable Dining in the Mission
by Michelle Chan on Jan 25, 2007
Open since Fall 2006, Weird Fish has already developed a local following in the Mission. Serving brunch as well as dinner, owners Timothy Holt and Peter Hood have hit on a winning formula with this quirky neighborhood eatery. The menu stays firmly in the vegan-pescatarian range, and emphasizes local produce and responsibly-harvested seafood. Given that many restaurants charge hefty premiums for sustainable dining, Weird Fish's moderate prices ($3-12 for starters and $6-12 for entrées) are a welcome attraction.
With its blue-green walls trimmed in espresso wood, the décor at Weird Fish is Parisian flea market meets the seaside. A giant chandelier dominates the room, and its nine tables feature tin-pressed ceiling tiles covered in glass. Add lively chatter and hip music, and this place exudes a relaxed yet stylish vibe.
Chef Bradford Briske, formerly with Millennium, introduced a completely new menu in January 2007, and will continue to rotate it depending on what looks best at the Ferry Building farmers’ market. The fish here isn't so weird after all, limited to catfish, trout and tilapia; what's eclectic is the menu's span, which ranges from yam tacos to oyster po' boys.
Starters include New England clam chowder ($4 for a cup) and salads, the priciest being the New School Louie's ($11 for the crab and shrimp combo). This dinner-sized salad is as good as you'll find for the price, featuring sweet Dungeness crab and bay shrimp, with substantial additions like avocado and hard-boiled egg.
The fish entrées basically come three ways: filleted and grilled, battered and fried, or nestled in a sandwich. The trout encrusted with Dijon and almonds ($7) had a delicious mustardy flavor, but the portion was small. Hungry diners would do well to order a hearty side, such as the edemame noodle salad ($4). A real value the night we went was the "Suspicious Fish Dish", a catch of the day entrée which our waitress coyly refused to describe. At $9, it included grilled trout, a side of buttery couscous, and a mound of diced crab and avocado, wrapped in cucumber and drizzled with cocktail sauce.
A significant portion of the menu is given over to all things fried, although they had their ups and downs. On the upside, the fried oysters ($7, a la carte), tilapia (served with chips, $8 for two pieces), and pickles ($5) were juicy, crisp and completely greaseless. Yes, that's right, pickles; Weird Fish is one of the few places in San Francisco to offer this, uh, weird but addictive side dish. On the downside, the massive pile of chips, an otherwise appealing mix of yams and potatoes, were limp and unevenly salted.
Vegetarians will cheer at the fact that almost every menu item has a vegetarian version. On our visit, the veggie soup of the day ($3 for a cup) was a vegan split-pea, thick and hearty, with undertones of onion. Vegans may be tempted by the tempeh and chips ($8 for two pieces), batons of fried sesame-encrusted tempeh served with a gingery dipping sauce.
Vegetarian friends are already touting the Weird Fish brunch (available daily) as a total godsend. On the other hand, some carnivores have relegated it to "dinner only" status due to the lack of bacon on the breakfast/brunch menu, available daily. However, vegans (who so often get the shaft), are quite well served by the menu at Weird Fish.
Weird Fish isn't the kind of place for which one would make a special trip across town. But it is everything one would want in one's own neighborhood -- an affordable restaurant with high-quality, sustainable food; efficient and friendly service; and a stylish atmosphere.
2193 Mission Street (@ 18th)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Hours: 9am - 3pm & 5pm - 10pm, Sun -Thurs; 5pm - midnight, Fri - Sat
Reservations Essential? Not accepted
by Michelle Chan on Jan 25, 2007
photo credit: Michelle Chan-Fishel