Friday, July 6, 2012

Sunday Brunch, Part 2: Penn Avenue Fish Company

I'll eat anything that comes out of the sea.

Fact.  I have always been a seafood aficionado (in Spanish, "aficionada", as I am a female).  I used to always request that my birthday dinner be held at Red Lobster, so that I could get the Ultimate Feast -- and once, I got a whole lobster (and creeped out my best friend at the time because the lobster was "looking at" her).

I had read about the Penn Avenue Fish Company two years ago in Pittsburgh Magazine and told myself, "I need to go there!"  However, being that they are only open for lunch, it hasn't been easy for me to do so, nor have I made it much of a priority, despite my love of seafood.

Penn Avenue Fish Company
So after our Bar Marco/Lucy's Banh Mi meals, we were on our way back to the car, and James suggested stopping in to check out what their deal was.  I had no problem with it, having wanted to check it out myself, so we walked in and immediately walked to the back to the wholesale fish counter.

Fish for sale!
 We checked out the selection, and James asked some questions to the super-friendly fishmonger who was eager to answer his questions.  He spotted a treasure that we had yet to see in Pittsburgh: Smoked Salmon, cut right off of the fish itself:

The origin of our smoked salmon
 The gentleman cut us a sample, and it was amazing.  James purchased a 1/4 pound (as it sells for $36.99/lb!), and the fishmonger was kind enough to set up a plate for us to enjoy it:

Smoked Salmon with accompaniments
It was just as good as what we had enjoyed at Russ & Daughters (so it was fantastic!).  The fishmonger mentioned that they get sable in around the holidays -- so I will definitely be stalking them until it comes in!

 James was so impressed by the quality of the fish that he could not help ordering the sushi special for the day: Salmon, Avocado, and Yellowtail Roll; Spicy Tuna Tartare; Eel & Avocado Nigiri.

Sushi Special: Salmon, Avocado, Yellowtail Roll; Spicy Tuna Tartare; Eel & Avocado Nigiri

Wow.  Such fresh sushi.  Probably the best I've had -- no exaggeration.  Far better than the quality of sushi at Giant Eagle (although in a pinch, it's satisfactory), and better than that of Nakama, Yokoso, Benichopsticks, Sushi Kim...everywhere I've had sushi.  I normally cannot stand eel - it's the one seafood that I pass on - but to be honest, those pieces were the best on the plate!

Being that it was a Sunday, there were no soups offered, only "brunch".  Everything was pay-at-the-end - order what you want, tell them what you had before you leave, they'll ring it up, you pay -- an honor system that works.  Hopefully, people don't try to ruin that.  

We had to come back.  So we did -- 2 days later.

On our first visit, we noticed that on Tuesdays, they had all-you-can-eat fish tacos for $8.99.  Yes.  That needed to happen.  AND I just happened to have that Tuesday off, so we went to partake in the fish tacos:

Fish Tacos!
They were definitely good, but they needed to use the "double-up" method with their corn tortillas, as they fell apart as you ate them.  No harm in that, but it was pretty messy.

The soups sounded interesting, so James and I first tried the Spicy Seafood Gumbo.  The setup is "serve-yourself", and James was careful not to strain the soup, as the menu warned that if you do -- you get a spanking.  Ouch:

Spicy Seafood Gumbo
Note the soup straining warning
 Spicy seafood is always a good, standard choice, but I really wanted to try the Watermelon Gazpacho, since a woman at the table next to us on our first visit was raving about it to her family (she had had it earlier in the week, apparently):

Watermelon Gazpacho
 What a perfect summer soup.  Although on this particular day it was not sweltering hot, the soup was refreshing, nonetheless.  Spicy, sweet, and savory, all in one bowl.  Ahhhhhh.

We couldn't resist getting more sushi, so James ordered a few things a la carte directly from Pana, the Sushi Chef:

Pana, Sushi Chef at Penn Avenue Fish Company (in focus, not the blurry guy)
Hamachi (yellowtail), Nigiri, and Maguro (Tuna) Nigiri

Maki Roll (Hamachi & Tuna)
Again - best sushi in Pittsburgh!  Confirmed!  Both James and I were largely impressed.

We all know by now that I love the Strip District, but this is probably one of my new favorite spots (on a long list, of course, but this is a gem!).  Fresh fish, awesome sushi, and all-you-can-eat tacos on Tuesdays?  

I'll be back.  Often.

Penn Avenue Fish Company
2208 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Penn Avenue Fish Company on Urbanspoon

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