Atlantic Fish Company

Walking into Atlantic Fish Company was like walking into a grand, elegant ship with its lustrously polished wood and rounded high ceilings that look like the base of a large vessel. It was a special place for a special day. My sister took the family out for a lovely lunch for our father’s birthday. We’re so lucky… she always spoils us.

The decor couldn’t have been more fitting with the cuisine. The menu proudly boasts incredibly fresh seafood dishes; plump and juicy scallops, sweet, flavorful shrimp and delicate crab meat risotto, and daily specials like the Chilean Sea Bass. It was a polished place for polished meals.

Bread basket with mini blueberry muffins

Clam Chowder - $5

Steamed Mussels - $12

Fried Ipswich Whole-Bellied Clams - $16

For starters, we had the award winning clam chowder. I’m sure it received an award for its thick and creamy consistency full of clam flavor with a subtle spicy kick at the end. The cup of soup was flawless. For $5, this is a keeper. For $7, this is a keeper with a bread bowl. Yum. If one restaurant’s chowda was to represent Beantown, this would be it. As for the mussels, they were nicely plump and meaty. Surprisingly, the large amount of sofrito did not overwhelm the dish at all. Lastly for apps, the fried clams were good as well, but $16 for a small brown bag of clams hurts- even if it is a fine dining restaurant.

Chilean Sea Bass - $26

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes - $27

New Bedford Giant Sea Scallops - $22

Everything was cooked to perfection. Our waiter suggested that the Chilean Sea Bass be pan seared. Good call. The sear on the filet had great color, texture and provided a wonderfully crispy contrast to the tender and moist flaky meat inside. Although it was a petite piece of fish, the plate as a whole left you feeling satisfied. On the other hand, the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes were massive. They were generous with the amount of crab meat where the cakes practically fell apart when set on the table. Served with coleslaw and delicious corn pudding, this was a dish I would order again. I really appreciate how Atlantic Fish Company doesn’t overdo their crab cakes with bread crumbs and seasoning like most restaurants. It was au naturel seafood at its best. Another highlight of the dish was the corn pudding. It was like a pan seared sweet custard with crunchy little kernels that popped when you bit in. This was a refreshing and creative side dish aside from traditional mashed potatoes and rice pilaf. And lastly, the scallops. I did not try it, but I was told it was a bit under-seasoned but cooked just as perfect as the other dishes. All of the entrees could’ve used more salt and pepper, but the issue was minor because everyone at the table thoroughly enjoyed their meal.

As I mentioned in before, the service was friendly, inviting and most importantly, they made my dad’s birthday special. At the end of the lunch, they surprised our table with three complimentary desserts on a tray with “Happy Birthday” in chocolate syrup. There was creme brulee, key lime pie, and peppermint ice cream pie- all with a candle on top. Now that’s good service!

Thanks for the lovely lunch, Lily, and I hope you had a very happy birthday, Dad!

And thank you too, Atlantic Fish Company!
Total Meal: ~$250
Servings: 7 people

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Bistro 5

What happened in that restaurant is something I will never forget. The keyword here is “raviolo”- not ravioli, just a single raviolo. Before I get into details about the pillow of god-like food laid on a plate before me during that divine minute, it’s important to know what Bistro 5 is all about.

Walking into the restaurant, booths proudly show off their French pinstripes, romantic Spanish colors glow warmly throughout the area, and colorful, energetic paintings speak to you through Italian text. Somehow, you understand all three cultures by simply opening your eyes, but you are almost fluent when you taste the cuisine.

Chef and owner Vittorio Ettore has managed to transform a simple corner of West Medford into something truly amazing. I personally believe the first impression of a restaurant should be made through its tasting menu. To my delight, Bistro 5 offers just that, with options for a $65 five course meal ($25 wine pairing) and $45 for three courses ($20 wine pairing). I opted for five courses and Chef du Cuisine, Joe Carlie, made two specific dishes stand out illustriously.

The dinner started with homemade focaccia bread served with smooth chickpea puree with basil, lemon, Parmesan and olive oil. It was definitely a great way to begin the evening.

Foie Gras Mousse and Vincotto - $6

I also had the Foie Gras Mousse and Vincotto, which is something I will order again and again. The mousse was as light as a cloud, while the richness of cream did not take away from the highlight of the dish. This was certainly a great way to start my five courses.

Oysters on the Half Shell

The first course consisted of oysters on the half shell prepared in two ways: passion fruit gelée and cornmeal crusted with Meyer lemon. After such a great appetizer, I felt somewhat underwhelmed with this one. There was no harmony from the combination of ingredients. The fruit flavor overpowered the potentially beautiful brininess of the oyster and the cornmeal crust nearly diminished it. I hoped that the next course was much better.

Egg Yolk Raviolo with Wild Mushrooms

Reader, this is what I’m talking about. THE raviolo. It is fresh pasta with homemade truffled ricotta cheese and a quail egg yolk that oozes upon breaking, creating the most blissfully satisfying sauce. Immediately after my first bite, it was as if all senses were muted except taste. The experience was absolutely sublime and I can only hope they put this on their permanent menu. I might even write a request. This dish would be a hit!

Duck Confit & Apple Streusel

The third course was duck confit & apple streusel with kumquat chutney, foie gras “oreo”, and duck prosciutto with a green apple sorbet. The duck confit left a lot to be desired, mainly because the kumquat chutney was delicious but overpowering. The foie gras oreo was very whimsical and fun to eat. Chocolate cookies and fattened liver go well together- who knew? The duck prosciutto and green apple sorbet was my absolute favorite of the three though. Forget the classic prosciutto and cantaloupe combination, this is where it’s at. It was like biting into fresh fruit where the sweetness pleasantly lingered around in my mouth waiting for savory sensations to kick in. And yes, it was well worth the wait.

Roasted Quail

This little bird is jam packed with flavor! I have never had meat so succulent and juicy before. It was perfectly cooked, no superfluous seasonings- just a cooking technique that was executed flawlessly. The quail rested on a bed of Swiss chard, roasted cauliflower and roasted cauliflower purée. The purée was as smooth as silk and tasted incredibly creamy. This must be the “foie gras” for vegetarians. Too bad a bird sits on top of it.

Homemade Doughnuts

And ending the night were homemade doughnuts with strawberries, crème de cassis and vanilla ice cream. The strawberries with cassis were tasty together, but the doughnuts were a bit heavy and doughy. I could have done without this dish, but if the doughnuts were more light and airy, it would certainly be a winner.

So maybe I felt indifferent towards three of the five courses… but the Egg Yolk Raviolo and Roasted Quail not only left me in awe, but also left the inspiring first impression that food lovers like me are always in search of. Finally.

Bravo, Bistro 5!
Total Meal: ~$65
Servings: 1 person
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