Noticeable from the moment one descends the steps leading into Grillfish’s shaded, sunken dining room is its residential feel, less like a business establishment than a rec room or den in the home of a trusted friend repaying guests for a bit of their company with a delicious meal.
In a time when many eateries seem to be in venomous competition with one another over whose furnishings assemble the sleekest and shiniest in unadorned TONY chic, Grillfish is a breath of fresh, herb-scented air for its ornate chandeliers, its floor-to-ceiling interior mural and unquestionable conversation piece, and profusion of pillar candles drizzling their glow like spilled honey upon the carved stonework of its bar area. High ceilings and expansive windows allow the room to make efficient use of natural light during daytime hours.
Noticeable nearly as early as its welcoming feel will be the freshness of the catch gracing its menus, such that one gazing beyond the restaurant’s front panes could almost expect to glimpse fishing boats returning to port, their great nets bursting with marine creatures of once and future greatness.
It delights me to credit Grillfish with having spoiled my palate for cream sauces. An appetizer of mussels swimming in garlic, wine, and cream has introduced me to what remains the best sauce of its kind that I have ever tasted; this, attributable to how harmoniously the three meld, their balance allowing no singular flavor to dominate the others.
The grilled shrimp scampi is another opener that guarantees an auspicious beginning to a dining experience certain to deliver on all the promises carried in one’s first bite, in the aromas leaving the open air kitchen. A person seeking a touch of heat will find it in a dish called Spicy Clams in Garlic Tomato. For those unwilling to altogether abandon dry land’s edible delights, the Shrimp and Chicken Marsala is among the tastier compromises to be found, along with no few options with regard to steak, pasta, soups, and salads. The host is courteous, the servers pleasant and nimble with suggestions of a wine to accompany one’s selection.
Parents will be glad to know that Grillfish also offers a children’s menu. This, combined with its bustling open kitchen makes it an unlikely choice for quiet-seekers, although that isn’t necessarily a detriment. On the contrary, it enhances the feeling of being received at the family home of good friends. If, however, one’s preference is strictly for the company of adults and an extensive assortment of libations to enjoy, then a seat at the bar does provide some distance from the often energetic noise level of the dining room.
Grillfish is an affordable, family-friendly casual dining option that should not disappoint any lover of fresh seafood consistently prepared with imagination and skill.
1200 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036