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
Open: Lunch and dinner, daily