Weird Fish is a little space, and I've only done a little visit, so expect a little update to this little write-up in the near future.
Walking into this tiny restaurant made me feel like I stumbled onto a set for an Urban Outfitters catalog shoot. Cute stylee décor, check. Mixed hipster clientele, check. Eclectic beats, checkity check. Oh, and wait staff in newsboy caps, check. Don't get me wrong, I have zero problem with hip, I encourage it wholeheartedly. (Yo, you there in the ironic t-shirt, pass me a PBR.) But let's just say ~WEIRD FISH~ is not the first spot I'd bring my (cute) mother for dinner, unless she was an anthropologist studying the Missionite species.
Mom would also not be happy with the line, nor are most people, which is what you can expect at local hotspots run by cool Mission denizens who know a pile of fellow Mission hipsters (to wit: one of the owners, Timothy Holt, has been the GM of Boogaloo's for 10-plus years, and the other owner, Peter Hood, is also behind St. Francis Fountain--you do the math). Once the sister café opens next door (Milk and Honey? Monkey See Monkey Do? Stand by.), at least there will be a place to hang out while waiting for your table (there aren't a lot of tables, but they are quite pretty with their glass tops over oxidized fleurs and the like).
The space is totally gastropub quaint, with robin's egg blue walls, dark wood wainscoting, a shelf with apothecary styling of sea-styled ephemera, a gorg pair of oval mirrors with crackled ivory frames, and a serious chandelier. (No one-eyed fishermen, however.) The vibe is casual, and cozy. And totally freaking loud. Like, holla. My favorite touch: the black bandanas for napkins. A vato-style nod to the 'hood? Yo, esse, it works.
Big props to the owners for taking a stand on utilizing local ingredients and sustainable seafood, and as they promised me before opening, they were gonna make the best damned fish and chips in town. They worked like hell on getting the recipe right, and I have to say the beer batter adheres perfectly to the nice juicy chunks of tilapia like a dream. Not greasy, not soggy, not too battery, just crispy enough. Piping hot. Salted just right. Hmmmm, by Jove, I think they did it.
My friend argued the merits of nice and greasy fish and chips wrapped up in newspaper after too many pints, and I can see the charms of that (if charm is the right word), but I like having a non-greasy and eco-friendly option around town. You can get two pieces ($8) or three ($11), and they come with a pile of pub-style thick-cut skin-on fries mixed in with sweet potato/yam fries. Hot, meaty salty fries, built for malt vinegar sprinkled on top. Get a glass of Anchor Steam (it's on tap) and you're set. Or just commit already and get a pitcher ($13). Hic.
Vegetarians can scarf on some fried tempeh (2 pc. $8/3 pc. $11) and there is the option of wheat-free soy batter as well. (I am not a vegetarian, far from it, so it's up to you veggie friends to fill me in on these.) There are a whole pile of options coming from the fryer, including yo-yos (fried dill pickles, who knew?), calamari, and reportedly the beer-battered green beans rule. Oh, and bonus, the oil from the fryer is converted to bio-diesel fuel, word.
Since it's crab season, I was all over the crab Louie salad ($12) like crabs on, oh, ew, never mind. A pile of fresh crab arrived (I've feasted on bigger piles around town, but it's still plenty) on a bed of fresh lettuce, plus some avocado, and hard-boiled egg. I liked the green olives mixed in too. Sadly, the tomatoes had no business being put in the classic wood salad bowl--totally out of season, hence nasty. There was another special app that featured some waaaay out of season ingredients: figs. The kitchen was nice and sent out the figs and goat cheese as a treat, so I'm not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth, but I do think they need to pay closer attention to the seasonality of some of the ingredients they are using.
There's an appetizing line-up of sandwiches, from po' boys ($7) to crab rolls ($12) to grilled tilapia ($6), which I plan to check out for lunch one of these days. "Pete's Famous Tacos" (1 for $4/2 for $7) also have some fans--I found them a touch too soggy and sweet for my taste--and the chipotle was MIA. Vegetarians have a slew of options here (grilled yam and pepita tacos, there are a couple salads you can add tofu to, and ten sides are vegetarian), and even vegans will fare well. This place knows their neighborhood.
We ordered some carrot cake to go, and when we opened the container at home we discovered a pathetic little gummy wedge that needed to go the way of the tomatoes and the figs. But I heard the chef they'll be hiring for the new café next door will be helping out with desserts, so I will bank on it that this will get sorted.
Looking forward to trying the (daily) brunch--I recently mentioned the offerings in my column, but for the record: you can get eggs, hash browns that are made-to-order, shrimp and crab omelettes, buckwheat pancakes, French toast, and grits, like one dish called Little Al's Grits, with grilled shrimp, blackened catfish, mixed veggies, and corn tortillas. There are also a number of vegan offerings, like vegan pancakes, vegan sausage, and vegan bacon. Plus real coffee and espresso drinks from Mr. Espresso (he's totally the marrying kind). Now excuse me while I hop on my fixie and head over to my friend's art opening.
2193 Mission St.
Cross: 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Open daily 9am-10pm
Hours as of July 2012:
Mon-Thu 11 am-10 pm
Fri 11 am-11 pm
Sat 9 am-11 pm
Sun 9 am-9 pm