Seeing as I mentioned Chef Michael Psilakis' (seemingly) lesser known restaurant in my previous post, it feels only fair that I devote an entire post to the best smoked octopus I've ever had in my life at Fishtag.
The brilliance of the menu is in its organization — the star of the establishment is its extensive wine list (though its food is by no means playing second fiddle). Wines range from light, sparkling selections to more robust — or as Fishtag says — "explosive" reds. Beers and liquors are cleverly interspersed throughout as well, creating a decidedly enjoyable food and wine pairing that is nearly foolproof. No more guessing what wine goes with what dish.
And while I could wax poetic about the strategic structure of the menu, it would all be for naught if the food were anything less than superb. But friends, the food.
Each dish maintains its individual integrity, yet works beautifully well with everything else on the menu. I sampled a number of appetizers, being unable to decide upon a single main course, and regretted nothing. The Catalan Shrimp, seasoned with zatar, is not overly spiced, and its acid content perfectly cuts through the richness of the protein and the starchiness of the potatoes. The Smoked Octopus, undoubtedly the (unsung?) star of the menu, derives both its incredible texture and flavor from a smoking process, making it considerably tenderer than the la plancha preparation, but maintaining the same charred taste.
The Bacala & Skordalia "Melt" is a perfect visit to the Mediterranean — while fish and cheese seems like a culinary faux pas, there is nothing wrong with this combination of ingredients.
Really, there is nothing wrong with this restaurant. Intimate, cozy and remarkably reasonably priced, this is sure to be my favorite restaurant on the Upper West.