Brooklyn Fish Camp

I’ve walked by Brooklyn Fish Camp many a time, and the few times I’d tried to just “drop in” I’d been turned away either by the charming hostess or the long lines (or the hours of operation). Last night, I stumbled there, weak from low blood sugar (lunch sushi from Sunrise Mart never seems to pack enough bang for the buck), to meet Aya, who informed me that there would be a 45 minute wait.

These little things can contribute to one’s overall impression of a place, but I would not be deterred. I’m gullible (yes, I know they removed that word from the Wikipedia) and I am often (too) willing to forgive if I know the intentions are not malicious (this morning I got a Twitter update from my friend Kev that read: “becoming unclear on the distinctions between negligence and malice” to which Aya replied: “negligence is a passive form of malice” though now I would revise that to say that malice implies ill will. Negligence is just laziness, which may or may not have any intention behind it).

The place looked not that crowded — I spotted two two-tops in the back corner. Don’t you hate it when the hostess tells you it’ll be an hour wait and you are staring right at two empty two-tops? In this case, the assessment may have been correct, but not due to lack of seating but rather to under-staffing. I was too bleary to walk the extra block to Blue Ribbon, so we plunked down at the stainless steel bar, and ordered a half dozen Malpeques and two glasses of Txacoli (which, in retrospect, turned out to be the highlight of the meal).

Decor-wise, not too much to write home — I mean, blog — about: homey-ish, kraft paper on the tables (implying greasy fry shack), not too much faux nautical crap hanging from the walls, a nice open kitchen manned by three earnest-looking cookers. The patio seating looked nice, though we took what we could get inside to shorten our wait.

Oh, the oysters. What can you say really about oysters? Either they’re fresh or they’re not. (We’ll not talk about when they’re not.) These were damn fresh, well-treated, and seemed to have marinated perfectly in waters of the Prince Edward Islands. The truth is, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish between a Malpeque and a Kumamoto, but all I know was these ones were right yummy.

But that has more to do with mother nature (and the ability and desire of the chef to get them to our plates post-haste) so hats off to both.

We bypassed the Restaurant Week menu, and went straight for our instinctual choices: for Aya, the Shellfish Bouillabaisse and for me, that would be the Lobster Pot Pie. Ironic that our engrossing dinner conversation had to do with the increasingly ubiquitous sentiment of “Photo/Video or it didn’t happen” because I have no proof that we had either of these dishes.

Unfortunately I cannot say that I failed to photograph them because they were devoured so quickly, that they were so utterly delicious that they made me lose all sense of bloggerly responsibility. No, while the Lobster Pot Pie was well-made and replete with fresh lobster meat and mushrooms and cream, and a butter-rich pastry to cap it off, I found myself searching for a lemon to squeeze into my mouth, a cornichon, anything with acid to cut through the fat bath in my mouth. Yes, there is a point at which cream and butter can become too much. And this crossed that line.

Aya’s Bouillabaisse, while right tasty and, again, full of fresh ingredients, left me slightly less than impressed. My memory latched onto the ridiculously stale piece of bread that was served with the dish. Peasant that I am, the thing about bouillabaisse I look forward to most (after the actual broth itself) is the crusty crouton (garlic rubbed and toasted) with which one mops up the last drops of the soup. There’s something satisfying in pleasing your gullet with flavored starch AND cleaning your plate at the same time. And to this end, we were thwarted as the staleness factor on the bread piece was so old as to be injurious to the teeth (and I have pretty strong ones).

The sides were also middling, we got french fries and broccoli rabe, though I would have expected our entrees would come with some kind of side action (the pot pie surely could have used it). The pile of broccoli rabe was fairly flavorful thanks to the slices of garlic present, but I found myself reaching for some sea salt and olive oil, not finding either. The fries were thin, the shoestring kind, and ultimately became a ketchup-delivery device (especially after the top on the squeeze bottle popped off and splooged ketchup all over the crayon drawings on our kraft-paper. When we alerted our Lynda-Barry-esque waitress to this, she laughed abruptly at it and walked away).

Like I said, it’s the little things that can add up to contribute to one’s overall impression of a place.

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5 Responses to “Brooklyn Fish Camp”

  1. kayoko Says:

    went to BK Fish Camp a year back and was horribly sick the entire next day. like can’t-leave-the-bathroom all-day sick. enough said.

  2. Aya Says:

    Yeah, I couldn’t bring myself to write about this meal because it was too mediocre. Yes, oysters are amazing magical creatures, yes, the wine was lovely. Bouillabaisse… i dunno the flavor was just kind of off, too flat, too one note, and you’re right, the friggin bread-thing that came with it was like a super-greasy piece of tree bark! I remember how much effort it took to bite it off and chew on it! It scraped up the inside of my mouth! boo fish camp, boo!

  3. One Food Guy Says:

    Wow, I’m sorry your dinner was such a letdown. There is nothing worse than having your expectations destroyed by unbalanced food and crappy service. Take a trip to Boston, we have some great places to eat oysters AND get a fantastic, perfectly prepared meal – Neptune Oyster in the North End and B&G Oysters in the South End are just two of them.

  4. Craig Says:

    This is too bad. Molly and I have been here several times and have always had wonderful meals. Perhaps it is because we always order one of the grilled whole fish. And I can’t say enough good things about the garden out back. Lovely on a summer evening.

  5. tmonkey Says:

    I’m sure BFC serves up some wonderful meals. This is why Frank Bruni and other (lucky bastard) food critics go to place like eight times to average out the duds and make sure they are not reviewing a fluke. From the look of the kitchen, the actual food looks like it could be good on a consistent basis — if I am lured there a second time, I will order the whole fish.

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