If you’d like to try a restaurant, but their dinner prices are a bit high for your budget, lunch is a great option. It allows you to sample a chef’s flavor profiles without the big price dinner sometimes carries. It also gives you a good idea if you would like to go back for dinner.
The Brewster Fish House is a former farm stand and then fish market that has evolved into a contemporary dining establishment. It’s not usual to see lines out the door in the summer, at least in part because they don’t take reservations. The interior is comfortable with stenciled wood floors, wainscoting and art that reflects both its past with historical photographs and its menu with whimsical fish.
It was a Saturday afternoon, so we decided to do a leisurely lunch. We started with a soup course. My husband ordered the Billi Bi ($6) from the specials page. It was basically a chowder made with mussels and it was such a pleasant surprise. Six tender muscles were nestled in a flavorful cream based broth that was colored a lovely shade of peach.
The clam chowder ($6) was equally wonderful, with chopped bits of clams, white fish, ribbons of leeks and small diced potatoes. The broth had a very unique clam flavor – not briny, but pure sweet clam.
It’s a fact that my husband has not been able to resist telling everyone he knows that his Cioppino ($18) is the best he’s ever had. “Better than the one you had in San Francisco?” someone asked. “Yes, and only $18,” was his answer.
The tomato and fennel based broth was perfectly seasoned, and filled with three clams, three mussels and three shrimp in shell. A piece of cod was tucked in the bottom along with rings of calamari. Tentacles of squid were perfectly placed within the dish to create an artful visual effect. The dish was topped with an oyster in its shell with a toasted garlic crostini on the side.
It was a beautiful meal in every way – and each individual type of seafood was cooked perfectly, which is hard to accomplish in a dish with such a diversity of seafood.
My grilled True North salmon ($17) was a light dish which nicely reflected a lunch the size a lunch entrée should be. The salmon was lean with grill marks that were enhanced by the cross vertical lines of Dijon enhanced yogurt sauce that added a piquant flavor. The hot salmon was placed on a bed of spinach in a way that wilted the spinach just enough to be a cross between a salad and a perfectly cooked vegetable. Strips of thinly sliced prosciutto seasoned the spinach.
I love salmon, but rarely order it out because farm raised salmon scares me. But I had done research on True North Salmon before we dined out and the company is devoted to clean practices and non GMO, so I decided to give it a chance. I wasn’t sorry.
For a beverage, my husband ordered a bottle of Delirium Tremens ($10), which the menu touted as one of the best beers in the world. The slightly effervescent hoppy beer was indeed a delight. The minerality of my glass of Maison L’Envoyé white burgundy ($12) made it a fine accompaniment to my salmon dish.
In a rare treat (for lunchtime), we ordered crème brulee ($10) to share for dessert. The custard had discernable bits of real vanilla bean and the crunch of the torched sugar topping was pleasing to the ear and to the taste buds.
It was a perfect ending for a near perfect meal. Our lunch at the Brewster Fish House did in fact convince us that the chef is spot on in his flavors and presentation. It pretty much guaranteed we’ll go back for dinner.
Brewster Fish House, 2208 Main St., 508-896-7867, brewsterfishhouse.com
Hours: serving lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 a.m. in season.