Occasionally I get a craving for seafood. When that craving hit last week, it was a good opportunity to check out 89 Fish & Grill, an upscale seafood restaurant that’s taken over the former Michael O’Toole’s space near the convention center.
89 Fish & Grill is a massive, open space with wood decor and a sizable, inviting bar. After perusing the menu and hearing about the happy hour specials, I realized some tough choices would have to be made, because even though I had quite a craving, my appetite wasn’t big enough to let me sample everything.
First I made the easiest decision: the drink. The restaurant has about a half-dozen beers, including Guinness and Stella Artois, on tap for $2 during happy hour. The standouts are Ornery Otter Blonde Ale and an amber ale from Zanesville brewery Weasel Boy.
The beer is good, but a specialty cocktail grabbed my attention. The Shot in the Dark made with Bulleit Bourbon, a balsamic reduction, basil and lime sounded very interesting. You don’t usually find balsamic in cocktails, and it worked here, creating a nice flavor profile with the bourbon. The basil offered some aromatic panache.
There are six specialty cocktails on the menu that use a variety of liquors, and all are $5 during happy hour. The Hendricks Boulevard Style (gin with muddled lime and cucumber) is a good spring beverage.
Here’s where my willpower was put to the test. All appetizers are half-off for happy hour, and there were four I really wanted to order. I picked the lump crab cake ($5 at happy hour) and the calamari ($4.50) over the steamed mussels ($4.50) and seared scallops with a truffle risotto ($5.50).
The crab cake was a good size and was served with spinach in a bacon vinaigrette, which was tasty enough to be more than just a garnish. The calamari was served with banana peppers, a (not too spicy) marinara-like Diablo sauce and lemon aioli. The contrasting flavors worked well with the lightly breaded squid.
I will surely head back for the mussels — sauteed in white wine, garlic, saffron and cream — and the scallops, and another Shot in the Dark. Oh, and for a seafood joint, the burger looked tasty as well.