Monday, March 31, 2008

Fisherman's Outlet Restaurant and Market

(213) 627-7231
529 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Adequately Fed: $15
Lobster Bisque***
Charbroiled Sea Bass (Garlic Butter)*****
Charbroiled Atlantic Salmon (Garlic Butter)****
(Out of Five Stars)

Following a lead on the Yahoo homepage, I found Fisherman's Outlet, one of the highest ranked seafood restaurants in Los Angeles. Although I frequently complain about living in LA, the traffic, the sprawl, the superficiality, yet I'll have to admit that the food scene is eclectic and outstanding. This restaurant is an example of good inexpensive food, the type of closely held secret that only the locals know about.

First off, Fisherman's Outlet is barely a restaurant in terms of atmosphere. Like Pink's you navigate through long lines to order at the counter and eat at tables in the patio. On my visit, I arrived at 10:30 in the morning on a Saturday so I did not have to wait unbearably; at this time, there were still a good amount of customers. From what I hear, the restaurant does become incredibly busy during lunch hours, especially on weekdays when the downtown crowd comes by for some seafood.

Second, the major drawback of this place is the location. Nestled in downtown Los Angeles, at the end of a pleasant drive through skid row, Fisherman's Outlet is not in a good neighborhood. That's probably a good reason that they are only open for lunch 10-3:30 Monday through Saturday. But on the plus side, there's plenty of street parking and an accompanying lot. Whether you want to park on the street though, that's up to your discretion.

Since this is attached to a fish market, the fish is fresh and plentiful. The menu has much variety to satisfy the seafood aficionado. It looked like anything that swims or crawls in the sea is offered either deep fried or charbroiled. Though I did not try the fried offerings, the batter looked crisp and golden brown. My sea bass was unconfirmed Chilean, but then so many people lie about the actual origin I never know for sure. It came off the broiler with a moist interior and a crispy crust. The garlic butter sauce was nothing special, but paired with the fish, made a good accompaniment. In truth though, the fish was so delicious, it could have been eaten without any of the three sauces offered with the broiled fish, Cajun, garlic butter, or teriyaki. I've never been a fan of salmon, but their take on this all too common fish was also well-prepared.

Each dish comes with either fries and coleslaw or on a bed of rice. Make sure to tell them you want the fries or the default is rice. Biting into a golden crisp fry, I considered how successful their business could be just selling those tasty morsels. The coleslaw was too dependent on mediocre mayonnaise for flavor. My bowl of lobster bisque was unfortunately not very satisfying. I was expecting a hearty soup capturing the essence of the crustacean, but instead the flavor fell short on overwhelming hints of wine.

I do intend to come back and try some fried offerings. Although my visit was pleasant because of the time, I have considered how bad it would be if I had to wait in a long line and fight other hungry patrons for space at the tables. But looking at the experiences of other people, I'd say this place is worth whatever wait you need to endure.

Recommendation: Lunch only Monday through Saturday and make sure to come early.

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