Mary’s Fish Camp

08. November 2006 American, West Village + TriBeCa 0

64 Charles Street on West 4th
about $200 for four, with two bottles of wine, without tip
♥ ♥ ♥

For a restaurant that wasn’t selected by me–I met friends from out of town there–I was really surprised at how good our meals were at Mary’s Fish Camp. I’ve been to Pearl Oyster Bar before and although pretty good, I remember not being too happy with my sandy razor clams. (The owner of Mary’s was a partner at Pearl’s before she left to open her own.) I was running late so it took a while for us to be seated because a party has to be complete before they let you in. (It makes sense unless, of course, you’re the one your party is waiting for.) We were famished when our turn came, but oh, the surprises!

The lobster pot pie was so delicate. Its puff pastry was so light with a ramekin filled with about two claws and some fortifying vegetable chunks. Grilled fish usually bores me but the whole branzino was stuffed with rosemary and other herbs for flavor. A squirt of lemon juice brought out its smokey flavor and we ravaged it until all we had were bones. You can usually find skate in New York City menus because it’s so cheap but at Mary’s Fish Camp, it’s breaded and crunchy on the outside. It’s much more exciting than Jean Claude’s French version in SoHo. The cockles were also good, served with beans and thyme. We also ordered half a dozen of the oysters and although they were smaller than expected, I couldn’t really complain. I love oysters so all you have to do is serve them fresh and we’ll get along. The roasted beets with fennel and aged goat cheese salad was excellent. We left this for last as a palate cleanser and it was a nice break before dessert. We couldn’t help but order the banana pudding with vanilla wafers. I don’t think I’ve tasted a better banana pudding than theirs–balanced, not too sweet. A bottle of the white Burgundy and a bottle of Reisling completed our meal and we walked away from the West Village satisfied.

Mary’s Fish Camp is famous for their lobster roll so it was very pleasing to know that the other items on the menu stand out, too.