Flying Fish Cafe has been on the radar for quite some time, as we do eventually want to eat at every restaurant on property. It is a restaurant we walk by quite often, take a look at the menu, and say “We gotta go here soon,” but we never do. The seafood-centric menu is what deters us, and the thought of ordering steak at a seafood place has its preconceived notions. Nevertheless, we finally bit the bullet and made a reservation, less than 24 hours in advance, with a credit card. (There’s no turning back now…)
We arrived about an hour before our reservation, and asked if there was any availability to be seated early as we were quite hungry. They managed to squeeze us in at an open table for two, in a room at the back of the restaurant, off to the side, which was modeled to look like a circus tent. I’m really glad there was no clown decor. *shudder*
We ordered a couple Sam Adams Summer Ale, and our server, who turned out to be a temporary transplant from California Grill, brought us a basket of Potato-Chive Bread with Unsalted Butter.
The bread had a heartiness to it, but retained a soft texture. While I could see a few bits of chive throughout the bread, I couldn’t really pick up on its flavor. We brought some home and, served warm, was even better than at the room-temp at which it was served. It’s definitely a recipe I’d like to recreate and tweak at home.
The unsalted butter could have used a touch of, well, salt. The butter itself was rich and creamy, but a sprinkling of a large-flake sea salt would be a nice addition not only for flavor, but texture as well (like what is served at Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge).
We decided to skip an appetizer and go right to the entree. Matt ordered the Char-crusted Angus New York Strip Steak, which came with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Red Bermuda Onions, Young Carrots, Haricot Vert, and Yellow Wax Beans with Classic Sauce Foyot. He ordered his steak rare, and it was served perfectly rare. He noted that sometimes rare steak can be chewy, but this steak was incredibly tender, to the point he really didn’t even need a steak knife to cut it. I tried a piece and he was right. He also really enjoyed the char-crust to the steak.
The veggies were also nicely prepared and retained a touch of snap to them. They were a nice pairing with the rich steak. The steak was also sizable, and approximately half was taken home. You have to save room for dessert, right? 😉
I ordered the Trio of Heritage Berkshire-Kurobota Pork, described as Grilled Pepperberry and Wattleseed-dusted Tenderloin, Slow-cooked Belly, Braised Shoulder-Mushroom Ragout with a Zellwood Corn-Goat Cheese “Pudding” and Rich Pork Jus. From my understanding from our server, the Belly is cooked for 12 hours and the shoulder is cooked for 24 hours. Look at this mountain of porky goodness! Matt looked a bit more impressed by my plate.
Here you can see the layers of pork: on the very top is the belly, the dark crusted slab is the tenderloin, and the pulled portion at the bottom is the shoulder. The clear winner of this, for me, was the belly. Melt-in-your-mouth fatty, salty and a bit of a crispy outer layer. I could have eaten just a plate of it alone. Matt’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he had a bite. At that point, he wanted to trade.
The shoulder seemed to absorb all the pork jus, which too had a nice saltiness. It was another part of the dish that was fantastic. The tenderloin, which it cooked to about medium, was amazingly tender. The crust was a bit on the bitter side, but it wasn’t overpowering with the amount of meat I would have in a bite. Note – I don’t think there was any mushroom ragout on my plate.
The Zellwood Corn-Goat Cheese “Pudding” was quite good as well, but a touch on the sweet side for me. I imagine this was to help cut the saltiness of the pork belly and shoulder, but I would have liked more emphasis on the goat cheese. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about the “pudding,” but I will say it did grow on me, and I even enjoyed the leftovers I brought home.
We also ordered a side to share. While the Leek, Fontina, and Truffle-laced Trofie “Mac & Cheese” stood out to me, we opted for the Aged Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano Potato Gratin. You can’t go wrong with cheese and potatoes! I particularly enjoyed the crispier edge pieces of this dish. While we probably could have eaten the dish between the two of us, we did reserve a bit to bring home to enjoy later.
On to dessert! Matt is a big fan of desserts that incorporate either bananas, bread pudding or creme brulee. When he saw Our Signature Flying Fish Café “Caramelized Banana Napoleon,” he was sold. The dessert is comprised of Crisp Phyllo, Banana Mousse, Crème Caramel, Exotic Fruit Coulis and Bitter Chocolate.
While I’m not big on banana-flavored things, with the exception of an actual banana (I blame banana Runts), I’ll admit this was pretty good. At first I wasn’t too sure of it, but it had real banana flavor and not the chemical one I fear. Needless to say, Matt cleaned the plate.
The dessert that caught my eye was the Trio of Concession Sweets: “Out on the BoardWalk”, a dessert featuring Popcorn Mousse and Caramel Corn, Cherry Limeade Popsicle, and a Strawberry-Raspberry “Hot Dog” with Pound Cake “Fries” and Raspberry “Ketchup.” People at nearby tables were checking this dessert out when it arrived!
The Popcorn Mousse and Caramel Corn were fantastic. I tried to find the popcorn-ness is the mousse, and what I was picking up on would best be described as a very subtle Popcorn Jelly Belly flavor. The caramel corn on top was delicious. Karamelle Küche got nothin’ on this. 😉
What might be my favorite aspect of the dessert, however, was the Cherry Limeade Popsicle. Being a fan of sweet/tart combinations and fruity flavors over sugary sweets, this was perfect. And how can you not love that cute little soda glass rimmed with sugar? The popsicle was indeed tart, Matt puckered upon tasting it himself. I would love if they served a large version of this!
The Strawberry-Raspberry “Hot Dog” with Pound Cake “Fries” and Raspberry “Ketchup” were also very cute. The pound cake fries had been “crinkle-cut” and toasted, both really nice touches in attention to detail.
The hot dog had a macaron-like “bun,” and the strawberry-raspberry filling had a bright, fruity flavor. I loved the look of the kiwi relish!
Here is a look at the menus – click for larger photos:
We wish we hadn’t waited so long to visit Flying Fish Cafe. The food was fantastic, even without ordering any seafood, and our server was great. The restaurant was a bit loud, however, as several families were dining. Perhaps a later hour would provide a quieter setting, and it seemed to be settling down in terms of volume as we were leaving around 8pm. I highly recommend a visit if you’ve never been, and I know we’ll be returning!
Let us know about your experiences at Flying Fish Cafe! Have you avoided it because you don’t care for seafood? If you enjoy seafood, what are your thoughts on their dishes?