Fish Tag – A Smoked Salmon Bonanza

In New York, you have to keep your head down.

Nope, I don’t mean work hard.

I mean that you literally have to position your head downwards in order to see half the great restaurants here. 

After all, if I didn’t keep my head down, I would totally have missed Fish Tag.

Michael Psilakis’ fish and charcuterie oriented restaurant got mixed reviews when it opened, but it sounded intriguing anyway. However, it somehow got lost in the shuffle of restaurants on my radar, until my family and I were walking past it and caught view of it this past weekend.

 Though you must descend steps to reach the restaurant, the main dining space is incredibly bright and clean thanks to larges skylights and windows to a small outdoor garden. The look is clean and minimalist – very Scandinavian. The vibe is extremely quiet – not a place for small children or loud, raucous group parties.

 Grilled Cheese with Pork Belly and Poached Egg

A hearty and well made dish. Crisp bread surrounded mild, melty cheese and tender pork belly. The pork belly was more salty than smoky, which worked well with the cheese’s mild taste and the perfectly poached egg. This grilled cheese could have benefited from a slightly tangier cheese, like tallegeio, but it was still tasty and satisfying.

 Fig, Proscuitto and Manouri Bruschetta

Though the ingredients sounded wonderful, this was very disappointing. The figs were very soft and sweet – delicious on their own, but they rendered the dish too sugary. The prosciutto was in such minute amounts that it did nothing to add crunch or salt to the dish. The best aspects of this were the creamy manouri cheese(like a fattier, richer ricotta), and the perfectly charred bread.

 Gaspe Salmon with Bagel, Pickled Vegetables, Fennel Salad, and Creme Fraiche

There was a variety of smoked salmons offered, and I went with the Gaspe because it was described as lush, delicate, and succulent. I could go on and on about the way the salmon tasted but…why should I? That is exactly how it tasted. It had a firm texture, with a good amount of salt but not too much smoke, which is what I like in a smoked salmon. My father had the Irish smoked salmon. I really enjoyed that one more – it was even less fishy than my excellent gaspe salmon. The accompaniments were all first rate – the pickled cauliflower, briny olives, tart creme fraiche, tangy fennel, and chewy bagel made for a brunch fit for a Jewess*.

 Greek Spoon Salad with Tomato, Cucumber, Feta, Onion, Peppers, Olives, Grilled Kale, Radishes, Red Wine Vinaigrette

This simple Greek salad that would have been good on its own but was propelled to greatness by the grilled kale. The kale became so charred, so rich and meat-like that it added a whole other dimension to the salad. The tomatoes tasted sweeter, the feta tasted sharper, and the dressing tasted brighter. I will absolutely be grilling kale at home from now on.

Smashed Fries

Not listed as a side dish, our very sweet server let us order a side of these for the table. And they are. DYNAMITE! Made from starchy Idaho potatoes, these were somewhere between roasted potatoes, french fries, and hash browns. Thick as steak fries, but with the tender insides of baked potatoes and the crispiest crust I have ever had…these are phenomenal. Though I don’t think they were cooked in animal fat, they couldn’t be improved upon even if they were. Just greasy enough to remind you they were an indulgence, and perfectly seasoned, these were so good that any dipping sauce was totally unnecessary. A must order.

Fish Tag is a great spot for brunch with your parents. Not a destination restaurant, but the prices are very fair for the amount and quality of food provided. The service is great and the surroundings are nice but not stuffy. The smoked salmon is incredibly delicious, and those fries knocked my socks off. And, most importantly, it reminded me why it’s always important to look down in NYC.

Besides, you know, avoiding stepping in dog poop.

*Jewess (def): A woman raised in the Jewish culture. She is good at bargain shopping, bad at sports, and has impeccable taste in smoked fish. 


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