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Mostly Good Things at Waterbar

Dine About Town is back (does it ever leave? is it even really a novelty any more?) and, at $17.95 prix fix, Waterbar seemed to be the FiDi lunch with the biggest cost savings from the standard menu. I never really know what to expect when ordering off the Dine About Town menu: I’ve had cases where I feel totally ripped off and other instances where I felt like I would have spent two or three times more if I ordered off the regular menu. Luckily, Waterbar falls much closer to the latter.

I’ve been to Waterbar a handful of times, and the same thought enters my head each time I walk in: How much did it cost to build this restaurant? When one considers the view (nestled under the Bay Bridge), the enormous fish-filled water tank columns (which are downright pretentious), the size, the decor, etc – this clearly wasn’t a job done on the cheap. That being said, it feels like a special occasion spot and there is definitely a time and a place for that… every Friday for lunch with the folks, for example.

For such a seemingly ritzy place, Waterbar has some great daily deals. From 11:30am on, they offer a daily $1 oyster special. Additionally, they have a competitive Happy Hour from 3-6pm ($5 wines, $5 cocktails, $3 featured beers). Since we were three hours early for the drink specials, we settled for the oysters. I’ve already forgotten where the oysters were from, but they were big and quite tasty. The horse-radish gave them a great kick and woke up my tear ducts.

The Dine About Town menu – asparagus soup to start, Yellowtail Jack fish for the entree – appealed to me as much as anything else on the menu. Both dishes were generously portioned, which is never a given at a fish place and/or on a discounted prix fixe menu. The asparagus soup was fine, but if you blindfolded me, I would have guessed pea soup (really earning credibility as a food blogger, aren’t I?). It didn’t have that special punch that really good soups have; it lacked a spice or flavor or that special something to distinguish itself. The fish was a very large fillet, but when cut down the middle actually looked like raw chicken. It may not have been suitable for weaker stomachs or a cautious eater. I enjoyed the charred exterior, but like many white fish, felt the interior was pretty bland. The mushroom and potato puree underneath the fish was definitely the highlight.

My dad ordered clam chowder and fish tacos. As you can see from the photo, the tacos are big… Like cheap, Mission Mexican food big. Oftentimes fish tacos at a high-end restaurant consist of a delicate piece of shrimp placed upon a hand-crafted chip – which leaves you running for the snack drawer as soon as you get home. While these weren’t cheap per se, I can honestly say you get what you pay for.

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