Saturday, March 27, 2010

Manhattan's Big Fish Is On A Bun

Filet-O-Fish Lovers, Welcome to Mecca

I’ve always had a thing for the fish sandwich.

Growing up in the south, the fish thing was big. Our everyday fish usually came in the form of catfish, and we ate it every way imaginable. Deep fried, pan fried, sautéed, blackened… well you get he picture. And because of the catfish farms located in the south, as well as other fish from the Gulf of Mexico… the fish was always fresh. Never fishy. Good fish never taste or smell like, well, fish.

That said, in some restaurants in the south, cod and whitefish are popular choices because of their mildness….although not as readily available as catfish, redfish or snapper….

…unless you’re eating a magical McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sandwich (did I just say that?).

I had a slight problem with these a few years back… kind of an addiction. I wasn’t really living anywhere near a place where I could order my beloved catfish poboy, so the only option I really had were fish sandwiches of the fast food variety (how sad is that) and McDonald’s and Burger King usually were the call. I’m not a pillar of health, but I am still surprised I didn’t have a heart attack by the time I was 25.

Well, times have changed, and the fish sandwich has grown up. Lucky for me, the best fish sandwich…. (note I said sandwich and not poboy) anywhere…. Is located right here in New York, at Hillstone.

Hillstone will look familiar to many of you, as the old Houston’s, even though it really still is Houston’s. The chain renamed a few of their top selling stores, added one or two goodies to the menu, and invented Hillstone…. named after a California vineyard. The good news is the food is still as solid as Houston’s…. a chain that really knows their stuff (and I am not a chain guy).

For the longest time, I was a rib guy at Houston’s… mainly because their BBQ ribs were amazing. Fall off the bone, lick your fingers amazing. But a few trips back, I was intrigued by their fish sandwich, and took the plunge. I couldn’t believe what was put on the table in front of me.

Think big, soft, buttery, toasted sesame brioche bun. Inserts a huge, flaky piece of fried whitefish, top it with an outstanding dill coleslaw and a few pickle slices… and well, that is the best damn fish sandwich in Manhattan. Period.

Don’t take my word on this one… you need to try this for yourself. Beware of Hillstone, they are always crowded, so I suggest a weekend late lunch or early dinner.

You’ll be tempted when you get there to bail on the fish sandwich and order a steak, or salad, or burger…. But don’ be swayed. Stay with the mission. You’ll thank me later.


+ This is the quintessential fish sandwich, period.

+ Cool atmosphere and great fresh squeezed juice

+ Big appetites can start with spinach and artichoke dip

- The waitstaff can be to cool for school

- Likely a wait, this place is popular and a good value

- It’s dark, so if not your thing, stay away


378 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10010
(212) 689-1090