Big Fish offers a fine seafood dining alternative

December 17, 2013

By David Hayes

Yelp is no help.

The best way to discover a new restaurant, such as Big Fish Grill at Grand Ridge Plaza in the Issaquah Highlands, is to avoid the personal vendettas and experience it in person.

With locations also in Kirkland and Woodinville, Big Fish is still finding its footing in Issaquah (the website is still not up and running yet).

By Greg Farrar Big Fish Grill staff split an order of Alaskan cod tacos (left) and seafood gumbo into half portions so two diners could enjoy a taste of the other’s meal.

By Greg Farrar
Big Fish Grill staff split an order of Alaskan cod tacos (left) and seafood gumbo into half portions so two diners could enjoy a taste of the other’s meal.

I popped in for a meal with a dining companion recently and enjoyed the experience. We arrived in the late afternoon, having missed the lunch crowd, too early for the dinner service. We almost had the side dining room and the entire wait staff to ourselves. So, you’ll have to discover for yourself how Big Fish operates at peak hours.

We started off with the crispy fried calamari, one of my staples for measuring the merits of a seafood restaurant. Big Fish’s was served with a jalapeño lime aioli. The calamari was cooked to perfection and the aioli’s heat was subtle and tasty.

Next, we wanted to each try the seafood gumbo and Alaskan cod tacos. Upon hearing our intent, the waiter kindly offered to split each order for us to share. Nice touch.

The entrées arrived with pleasant surprises and an actual shocking discovery.

The tacos featured batter-dipped cod atop corn tortillas, better than flour in my opinion. They were filled with jack cheese, chipotle ranch, fresh greens, roma tomatoes and a cilantro, lime vinaigrette, almost too much for the small tortillas. A pallet-cleansing side of black beans and salsa filled out the order.

The gumbo, however, had me perplexed. It seemed to have all the right ingredients — cod, halibut, salmon, oysters, sausage, prawns, chicken and green onions topped with white rice. The dish was enjoyable enough. But it wasn’t until later it hit me — the sauce it was served in was a light, tomato-base. There was no roux. Any such Southern dish is only as good as its roux, a thickening agent created from flour and fat (usually bacon or lard). So, what to make of a dish that has none?

If you go

Big Fish Grill
984 N.E. Park Drive
Appetizers: $2-$13
Starter salads and soups: $5
Lunch entrées: $11-$16

Well, as the saying goes, many roads lead to Rome. In this case, the journey to an enjoyable meal need not take the same route. Just know that Big Fish has reinterpreted a few of the dishes along the way.

Also know that Big Fish’s menu has plenty of choices for that finicky diner for whom seafood isn’t at the top of their preferred cuisine — from top sirloin and chicken piccata to Andouille sausage chicken fettuccine and a slew of burgers and sandwiches.

With so few seafood restaurants in Issaquah, Big Fish is a welcome addition to your dining selections.


Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.


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