Buckhead Life is in the process of opening a restaurant in the old Jackson's steakhouse, so I wanted to check out another restaurant they own in Boca Raton. They claim that the Lobster Bar Sea Grill will be more casual with a lower price point, which exactly describes City Fish Market. I stopped in for happy hour 2 years ago; You can read that review at the end of this one.
I'd been trying to get here for lunch all week, but I always seemed to be running late. They serve lunch until 4pm, but I really didn't want to be sitting alone in a big restaurant at 3:30, so today I made an effort to get out early. It was 2:30 before I got to leave and I hit some traffic, so I ended up getting there at 3:15. At that point, I was the only customer in the restaurant. The good news is that I got any seat that I wanted; I took one by the water.jump-->
City Fish Market Water View
I'd seen the menu beforehand so I knew what I was ordering. They have a $42 fixed price menu but it doesn't seem like a very good deal; for most combinations you'd be paying more than if you ordered individually, unless their desserts are $14. I ordered a wedge salad and the Atlantic flounder; they only had one vegetable side so I ordered it with sticky rice.
I asked for extra lemon for my iced tea, which is getting to be a normal thing now.
City Fish Market Iced Tea
My server promised that fresh bread was coming out, but the salad beat it to the table.>
City Fish Market Wedge Salad
My initial impression was that it was pretty smallish for $8.50; barely a slice of tomato, and the "applewood" bacon was a weak sprinkle that were crumbled into such tiny bits that I could hardly taste it. The blue cheese dressing was superb, with large soft chunks of cheese. It was a good salad, but it would have been better with another slice of tomato and better bacon.
The bread came out shortly afterwards.
City Fish Market Bread
Nice warm crusty bread, not so hard that it couldn't be chewed but it did make a lot of crumbs. The butter was cold and hard which made it difficult to spread until it warmed up a bit.
The was a mixup with my Flounder; luckily we caught it when my server said that my salmon would be out shortly, so it took a little longer than normal. When they put it in front of me, disappointment was my first emotion.
City Fish Market, Sauteed Flounder
Usually when you "saute" fish it's moist and comes with a bit of liquid. This just looked like oven baked, skinny pieces. I expected to get a nice, big fleshy filet in a restaurant like this, not skinny pieces like you get when you buy the Publix generic package. And this entire dish seem to be completely devoid of culinary vision. I didn't like the "olive oil and lemon" sauce; it tasted like salad dressing and I suspect there wasn't much olive oil in it; luckily I had the extra lemon wedges and butter so I made myself a decent sauce, which was the only thing that saved the meal.
The vegetables were half cooked, which is better than overcooked. But a small portion. $23 isn't bad for a nice big Filet of Flounder, but not for this. When I ordered this with the salad I figured I wouldn't be able to finish, but I was still hungry. I could have loaded up on bread, but this was supposed to be a healthy meal.
Some solace was that I had purchased a Buckhead Ultimate Dining Card when I got an offer for 20% additional; 10% seems to be normal when you buy the card, so if you buy the card for $100 they put $110 on the card. >
Buckhead Ultimate Dining Card
I was surprised when he came back with a bill for $2; the Dining Card doesn't cover tax and can't be used for a gratuity. While they call this a "Gift Card", it's really not. I don't give gifts to people where they have to lay out $8 for tax and tip.
Even with the 20% discount, this cost me $36. with tax, tip and no alcohol. You can make the call on what kind of value you think that is for what I got.
I had the flounder at Chops Lobster Bar a few years ago and it was fantastic. I hope this was an anomaly and not what we can expect at the new restaurant on Las Olas.
Happy Hour 5/22/11
The place is very large inside; the front door opens to a dark hallway that's bounded with fish displays where you can buy fish; to the left is the bar area and there's an expansive dining room.
City Fish Market Bar Area
The bar had none of the view; it's in a closed corner. There's a piano in the corner (they have live music on Tues and Fri) and 2 big flat screen TVs on the far wall.
I came in for happy hour on a Sunday, and the place was dead empty. They advertise 1/2 price appetizers, but it's not entirely the case. They have a special menu, with some item's not on their regular menu and some other items that aren't half price. For example, I had the crab cake, which is normally $12.95 and it's $7.95 on the happy hour menu.
They also have the crabcake with a different sauce, a lemon/butter/mustard sauce; while the regular menu item comes with tartar sauce and mustard. I'm not even sure it's the same crabcake.
Another app, the "half and half shrimp and crab cocktail", isn't on the regular menu, and at $7.50 it's a good thing, because if they tried to charge me $12 or more for this measly portion I'd be pretty ticked.
These happy hour "special" menus are starting to be a trend; most places call them bar bites rather than trying to pass them off as 1/2 price appetizers, which are usually a better deal. I find this practice to be somewhat dishonest; it's false advertising, pure and simple, to advertise something as half price when it's not the same product for half price.
That being said, they have a terrific menu here when the widest variety of choices anywhere north of Miami. You can order your fish of choice cooked a few different ways, including "southern fried", where the fish is battered in flour and served with hushpuppies and Maryland style fries. The fish entrees are from $22 to $28. They also have several offerings of lobster and crab and higher prices.
Chops Lobster Bar 101 Plaza Real South Boca Raton FL, 33432 (05/14/2011)