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harvey steiman at large

Go Fish Gets in the Swim

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Jan 24, 2007 3:14pm ET


Last fall when I reviewed Go Fish, the new Napa Valley seafood restaurant, it was a mixed bag. Ken Tominaga's sushi bar was turning out some splendid sashimi and sushi, but the western side of the kitchen seemed to be misfiring.

The people involved, namely owners Cindy Pawlcyn and Sean Knight, who also have the venerable Mustards, outside Yountville, and the supercasual Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena, were too good to let the bad vibes continue at Go Fish. Just before my deadline, they announced the hiring of Victor Scargle, formerly of Julia's Kitchen, to take over as executive chef.

I've eaten at Go Fish three times in the last month, the first time unannounced (and apparently anonymous) and most recently for a casual dinner for eight I arranged to wind up my 60th birthday weekend. Good news. The restaurant seems to be firing on all cylinders.

I love the concept. There are really three menus. There's a complete sushi bar. You can order from it anywhere in the restaurant. Sitting at the sushi bar you can also order dishes from the main menu. The heart of it is a daily list of fresh fish, about six to eight options, available wood-grilled, sautéed or steamed, with an assortment of sauces available to go with the fish. (For those who know Hayes Street Grill in San Francisco, it's a similar concept.)

Early problems with overcooked fish seem to have been resolved. We had a wood-roasted steelhead that was sensational.

The larger menu has fish dishes such as citrus-steamed tai snapper in a light vinaigrette and miso-marinated black cod, and even a few non-fish dishes. But my favorite part of the menu is the appetizers, especially the clams in Thai coconut broth, the house-smoked salmon and the salt-crusted prawns.

Nice wine list, too, Napa-centric, but not exclusively. Prices are fair.

This is the dressy casual seafood restaurant that Napa Valley has been waiting for. I say that because I have yet to be there without running into at least three other people I know from the wine world. Put it on your list, too.

Go Fish, 641 Main St., St. Helena, Calif. 94574
Telephone: (707) 963-0700
Website: www.gofishrestaurant.net
Open: Lunch and dinner, daily

Steven Balavender
Tampa, Fl —  January 25, 2007 8:46am ET
Harvey my comment, or question be it, is not directly related to this blog so please excuse me for being off topic. In searching tasting notes on a 2005 Mitolo Cabernet Sauvignon Jester, I have found two rather large discrepancies between your notes and Robert Parkers TN's ...ie..your note says 200 cases were produced while RP's says 4,000 cases were produced. Also you have the list price as $57 which also seems way off. It looks to me like one of these TN's may be confused with another wine, can you please help shed some light on this....THANKS!
Kathy Hardesty
Pismo Beach, California  —  January 25, 2007 9:56am ET
I couldn't agree more, Harvey. During a too short visit to Napa Valley in December I tried Go Fish two times and loved it. We didn't have any problems, but it wasn't too busy mid-week at that point. I'll never forget the succulent roll with crab and avacado topped with half of a perfectly cooked lobster. From my many experiences at each of Cindy Pawclyn's remarkable restaurants I consider her one of the country's greatest chefs. I can always count on getting outstanding food and and a great selection of wines at fair prices (especially so in Napa Valley). But I'm spoiled here on the Central Coast where prices are downright bargains.
Harvey Steiman
San Francisco, CA —  January 25, 2007 11:44am ET
Hi, Kathy. Glad you agree. For the record, Scaargle started just after Thanksgiving.
Mr Randy Beranek
Napa, CA —  January 25, 2007 3:25pm ET
Harvey,Thanks for the update on Go Fish. I had dinner there in October and the restaurant and the vibe it gives off is terrific. However, the "western side of the kitchen" as you referred to it was a bit left of plumb. That evening on the way out, I ran into a friend who was working there who told me that they were still smoothing out a few rough edges and advised I come back in a month or so to see their progress. Based on your recent experiences, the coast seems clear to resurface.

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