If there is new dining establishment in the Encinitas area that deserves to make it it’s this place. Chef owner John Park and his pastry chef wife Jessica and Partner Ray Lowe have brought their San Francisco sophistication, world class culinary training and restaurant experience to funky Leucadia and blended it in perfectly to their new beach environment. They have created a hip, cool, tasteful and fun environment with a great soundtrack.
Besides the understated yet very stylish interior and outdoor patio, these proprietors have the personalities to fit the location. John and Ray are genuine guys. A big reason they choose the location was the proximity to their homes and the ability for them to surf in the morning and be to the restaurant in time to prep for the day. That is a healthy way to approach the day and it shows in what they have created.
Chef owner John Park has a background that seems designed for success in this type of endeavor. John has an economics degree from UCSC, is a California Culinary Academy of San Francisco grad, sushi chef at Ace Wasabi’s in San Francisco and Japaengo in La Jolla, and chef owner of Tokyo Go Go in San Francisco. He is also a complete waterman, counting diving, spear fishing and surfing as passions. What a perfect mix for a Leucadia seafood restaurant proprietor. His wife and pastry chef Jessica is also a CCA graduate and former pastry chef at Home Restaurant in San Francisco. Partner Ray Lowe comes from the San Francisco dining scene as well where he opened the hugely successful Ace Wasabi’s and Tokyo Go Go which he sold to make the move to North County and pursue the dream of Fish 101. It’s pretty clear that there is some significant talent behind the product.
So now that we have established that Fish 101 nailed the environment, the vibe, and the proprietors are solid folks, let’s get to the goods.
We started with a house made white clam chowder with Manila clams and smoked bacon that was as good as I’ve had. It was a really nice mix of creamy and broth that was not to filling yet full of flavor. The grilled shrimp cocktail was bountiful with six sizeable Mexican shrimp served with a Fish 101 made cocktail sauce. The oyster plate was a combination of local Carlsbad farmed Lunas and Barron Points from Washington with a mignonette and house made cocktail sauce that made them even more delicious. If you love oysters, Fish 101 does them right. Steamed mussels also came out with a white wine and leeks broth and grilled bread and all was good in the world of mussels. The albacore tuna poke was insane and the crudo with Hamachi (young Yellowtail) was just as good. I’d really love to get into deeper descriptions of these dishes but my word count is running short. Trust me, they all rock and all the starters are under $10.
Next up was the fried halibut Po’ Boy on a French roll with house olive oil, organic greens, tomato, and pickled red onions. For some reason fish sandwiches appeal to me as much or more as stand-alone fish. The combination of a great roll and perfectly paired condiments really add to the experience. This is a great sandwich. There is a burger on the menu which may be nice to throw into the mix next time for a little surf and turf action. The sandwich section ranges in price from $9.95 - $12.95.
The grilled fish plate of the day was the highlight of the experience. It was a super moist white sea bass on a bed of fresh corn with grilled asparagus on the side. A perfect example that healthy and delicious can coexist and at $12.95 an exceptional value.
Pastry Chef Jessica Park desserts really cap off a great dining experience. The root beer floater, black bottom crème brulee, and tres leche cake are all as good as I’ve had and really showcase her talent and experience.
It should go without saying but Fish 101 is committed to serving the freshest local, seasonal, and sustainable fish and shellfish. They also have a nice mix of seafood friendly wines and San Diego craft microbrews. I’ve only touched on their extensive menu and urge you to check it out at www.fish101restaurant.com and make plans soon to visit Fish 101.