Mar 31, 2010 · 1 Comment

Reviewing the House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer

We recently had the opportunity to try Laguna’s newest restaurant, with the very unusual but perfectly descriptive name, House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer. We’ve been to more than a few coastal fish joints, so we pretty much had formed a picture of what the place would look like, and we were right on the money. HBFICB has a great location downtown on Pacific Coast Highway, in the upstairs spot formerly occupied by Aegean Café. The windows are a bit small, but there are ocean views and no doubt some great sunset views from the perimeter tables. This is not a place for a quiet romantic evening. The music is loud and so are the often boisterous patrons. About ¼ of the tables were occupied by families with “active” children. The tables are classic fish joint distressed wood with a gloss finish and no tablecloths. The large trifold menus remain on the table, and you’ll need some time to peruse the oddly scattered boxes of specials and combos. My husband ordered the crab-crusted tilapia, which arrived atop a large pile of rice and grilled veggies that filled the plate from edge to edge. HBFICB is not about formality and presentation; it’s about eating fish and drinking beer. My husband is a long-time fan of tilapia, and has experienced a wide variety of presentations. He immediately pointed out that, in this case, the crab “crust” was less crust and more “mush,” probably due to the addition of a very thin sauce. However, he did say that it was perfectly seasoned and quite tasty. He liked the seasoned rice as well, but found the grilled veggies had a bit too much char taste. As for me, well, to be fair, I’m not one to judge a fish joint. I was just along for the experience and visuals. Like many fish houses, HBFICB has a very limited menu of non-seafood items, mostly steaks and sandwiches. I had a sausage sandwich that wasn’t exceptional—but then, in a place that specializes in seafood, I wouldn’t expect it to be. Bottom line—we were there early on a Tuesday night and the place was nearly filled with patrons, all of whom seemed to be enjoying the beer, the big fish, and the informal atmosphere. The House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer is exactly what it was designed to be—and it appears to be satisfying its niche.

1. Cap 10 Paul said:

This place is great! Food, Ambience, Service...( well OK the service is still a bit hit or miss depending on who you get). Keeping in mind that it is full tilt, food flying out of the kitchen and beers and drinks served at high speed to meet the demand of a huge success. Prices? Are you kidding??? Scampi over Pasta for $5??? A delicious fish stew with scallops, alaskan crab legs, green lip mussels, large shrimp, chunks of white fish, calamari and octopus in an absolutely delicious broth reminiscent of the best Cioppino. If it swims, crawls or attaches itself to the ocean it is in thie stew. Cost? $10...Really??? In Laguna??? To be fair and impartial the young girls at the hostess station could use some training. Both on attitude and efficiency. Again, hit or miss on that but I've heard it from more than a few patrons that it is the only less than professional part of the experience. By the time you've finished your meal all will be weighed in the positive column. Bet that you will be back because this place is a winner!!!

On May 28, 2010 at 12:34 pm

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