Ok, I have been somewhat distracted this week with all the buzz around Bugg's Temple so I have neglected my duties. And it was crazy because we ate at the Tavern at Bugg's last Saturday night shortly before I found out all this stuff. What I have learned from the Feed Me/Drink Me blog is that certain people involved in the restaurant are leaving, that the Creation Cafe people (which is located on the middle level of the building) are taking over the Tavern and hope to have dinner service restored here at some point (with Chef Gates as chef). I hope so, because it is honestly one of the best restaurants in this City food-wise in my opinion (with significant service issues to be worked out), and I will truly miss Brad Gates' food if they don't reopen.
Now, onward to the actual review here. My parents had eaten at Mitchell's for lunch several weeks ago and really enjoyed it (I think they had soup and appetizers). They know my penchant for good food and new places to write about in my blog, so they wanted to take us there. In all, there were 6 of us, and we got 6 different things and overall I think the review was somewhat mixed (except for my Mom's entree which was devoured by the entire table--more on that later.)
I had actually been to Mitchell's about a year ago and had a pretty good, but not overly memorable meal. Basically, I feel the same way about it now. I started with roasted mussels with a white wine, garlic and tomato broth. The broth was outstanding--and I really like the way they put big croutons right on top that sort of filtered down into the broth as you ate and tasted delicious with the mussels. The mussels themselves were not the best (I guess, maybe not the freshest) I have ever tasted, but they were decent. I also tasted my Mom's crab cocktail which was served with a nice tangy crab Louie sauce (I still keep hoping for a really good crab/shrimp Louie salad in this town--is anybody listening??). Anyway, my Mom's crab was quite yummy. I would be tempted if I went back to get her crab to start and maybe my mussels as a main dish.
What I had for my main dish was walleye, which is something I order as often as possible. It is one of the few Great Lakes' fish that you see on menus somewhat infrequently and the taste of it is really good--delicate but with a unique flavor. And generally, I like to try and eat as locally as possible and living in a pretty well land-locked part of the country, that can be challenging with seafood! I ordered the fish broiled thinking that it would be a fairly simple preparation that would allow the natural flavor of the fish to come through (and was actually described on the menu as "simply broiled." Unfortunately, while the temperature of the fish was cooked very well, it lost a lot of its own flavor with quite a bit of seasoning put on top. Some fish requires extra seasoning, or works best as a conduit for sauces and spices, (like halibut or tilapia) but I personally do not feel that way about walleye. I guess I should have gotten it grilled, but I thought the broiling would affect the flavor even less. On that note, I would like to say the last time I was there, I had fish prepared in their Shang Hai style, which is steamed with lots of ginger and green onions and with a rice wine vinegar sauce over rice and spinach and I remember being pretty pleased with it--again, a better preparation for tilapia or halibut in my opinion though.
Apparently my Mom had the ordering mojo this night though, because to follow her yummy crab cocktail, she got the blue crab and shrimp penne pasta with an Alfredo-type sauce. My husband had several bites and kept talking about how great it was. I generally am not a big fan of Alfredo sauces, so at first I declined, but then decided to try it and was glad I did. Everyone at the table ate some and everyone liked it.
I do want to say that others at the table who got other dishes, were not as happy with their choices as we were with ours. But I didn't try them so I don't feel I should comment on them.
We did all share (yes 6 people and 1 dessert) the Sharkfin Pie which is an insanely decadent "pie" made with butter fudge ice cream, peanuts, peanut butter, chocolate fudge and an Oreo crust. And there was enough for us to all have a decent portion. It is really good if you like peanuts and peanut butter as that is the dominant flavor.
All in all, Mitchell's menu reminds me a lot of Oceanaire except it isn't quite as extensive with the fresh shellfish and the portions at Mitchell's are more normal sized (although still very generous). I do think Oceanaire has the edge on Mitchell's however as far as freshness and interesting preparations. And Oceanaire has more of a metropolitan feel. Alas, they are both chains, albeit small, but you do what you need to to get fresh seafood in this town.
Mitchell's Fish Market
14311 Clay Terrace Blvd., Suite 100
Carmel, IN 46032