Little Fish, a tiny little BYO seafood restaurant, has a decent history in Philly. It was Mike Stollenwerk's first restaurant in the city (I'm pretty sure?), winning him a number of awards, but has since undergone both location and chef changes. However, it still clings to its original features- serving the freshest of fish to no more than 20 people at a time. Fresh fish typically comes at a price- entrees are in the mid-to-upper $20's. Thankfully, Little Fish offers a special Sunday tasting menu at a hard-to-beat price: $33 for five courses.
We snagged seats for the 5:30 seating (there's a second seating at 8 PM), and we got a table with a decent view of the kitchen/plating activity. Everyone is served at the same time, so it requires a bit of coordination and choreography in the kitchen. They eased into it with a salad course- a nice light arugula and fennel mix in a preserved lemon dressing jazzed up with an unpronounceable North African spice. A little shaved parm and pine nuts to finish- quality ingredients composed to make a bright start to our meal.
Our salad was accompanied by a crusty slice of baguette with a chimichurri sauce. The addition of parsley to the typical olive oil and garlic mix was a surprising (and neon-green!) twist.
My favorite dish of the evening was the tartare- in my opinion, the best way to serve a piece of fish is raw. This particular rendition utilized tuna; they didn't specify the type, but the range of pink hues suggested some fatty belly pieces mixed with leaner side pieces. The dish was tossed in a sweetened soy sauce-based dressing for a light seasoning- the flavor of the fish was still the major player here. Young coconut was pureed to add additional sweetness while cashew crumbles took this out of the baby-food realm. Not that I think raw fish is acceptable food for a baby...
Our meal warmed up with a creamy pureed sauerkraut soup. Sauerkraut soup definitely sounded weird to me, but not unlike the kimchi stew we tasted at Vedge, it was a little funky and very innovative. A heavy hand of cream helped balance the tang. A single scallop had a perfectly seared crust and tender center, and was topped by a tiny bit of bacon marmalade and "mustard seed caviar." These accompaniments easily could have overpowered the buttery scallop, but careful proportions worked in their favor.
The "main" dish of the night was a very Asian-inspired swordfish, glazed with a miso sauce and garnished with "Chinese broccoli" and crushed peanuts. The flavor profile was quite reminiscent of the stir-fries my dad used to whip up in his wok during our childhood, and the meaty swordfish was the perfect hearty choice for a winter meal. Unfortunately, I was so confused by the fact that the "Chinese broccoli" was without a doubt celery... that I forgot to take a picture. Sorry guys!
*Edited to add: one of our friends saved the day and provided us with his own picture of the dish (thanks, Mike!).
Thankfully I got my act together for dessert, a pineapple cake heavy on the brown sugar, served with caramel and a scoop of whipped cream. The cake itself was like a dense crumb cake and was topped with a sweet glaze made with pureed pineapple. The pineapple flavor was pretty subtle, but added an extra element to the very sweet caramel.
The portions were definitely on the smaller side (check out Foodspotting for real entree sizes- quite generous!) but we were very satisfied at the end of our meal. Unfortunately we were waved out the door a few minutes before we felt ready to end the experience- they had to prep for the next wave of diners in the second seating. However, Little Fish does accept credit cards now (they used to be cash only) which is a plus. $33 was a steal for this terrific meal!
746 S 6th Street