What do chefs like to cook and eat? Fish (as long as it isn’t overcooked or underseasoned). French fries. Seasonal vegetables. Street food. A young chef getting back into the restaurant business after a couple of years of itinerant cooking might ease into things by building a menu around some or all of these ingredients.
Enter Michael Hebberoy’s Pike Street Fish Fry, which opened a week ago. He’s joined in the open kitchen by Monica Dimas, an alum of Le Pichet and Campagne. The menu (including drinks) fits in a single column and comes down to choice of fish, choice of sauce, fries, and a few grilled items. The fish are cut in chunks rather than fillets, and are meant to be eaten with your fingers; fried fish come coated in a light, crisp, tempura-like batter. You can literally smell the place a block away, a good oceanic fishmonger aroma combined with a hint of frying potatoes.
The fries, cooked dark and crisp, are available in regular and “Spanish” versions; the latter version, topped with aioli and sweet chile sauce, is messy enough that you’ll actually be offered a fork. No such implement is necessary for the addictive fried asparagus. When spring is over, Hebberoy says, he’s planning to substitute green beans, and perhaps parsnips in the fall.
The single best bite at Fish Fry isn’t on the menu, though: It’s the battered-and-fried lemon slices that accompany every fish order. I wanted a sack of them to go. But I also loved the grilled spearfish (a few cubes on a skewer, served with slaw and toasted white bread), the skewered charred octopus, and the smelt. “They come with heads on, okay?” warned Hebberoy. I nodded and ate the smelt headfirst, dipping them in the deliciously acidic tartar sauce.
Would you take a date to Fish Fry? Well, how pierced is your date? The restaurant lives underneath a rock club, and you’ll probably be subjected to sound checks during dinner. There’s counter service, one banquette, and no reservations, so you’ll eat standing up. (Sidewalk seating is planned for this summer, and there’s a city park one block away for picnicking.) Prices are low, if not quite in street-food territory: Fish and chips will set you back around $11.
Pike Street Fish Fry 10th Ave. and Pike St. (on 10th just south of Pike), Seattle, WA (no phone)