I recently found a great restaurant in the Shaw neighborhood of DC that specializes in fish burgers. “A burger made out of fish? Brilliant” goes FishScale‘s slogan. And these are not ordinary fish, either. They are sustainable, wild caught fish. As a consequence, the type of fish served on any given day varies, and they can and do sell out.
Located on Florida Ave Northwest, FishScale is just around the corner of the historic Howard Theater, a couple of blocks north of the Shaw-Howard University metro station. I was in the area for the Kojo Nnamdi Show‘s 20th anniversary and had some time to kill. I ended up at FishScale and decided to stop in. I am glad I did.
I was greeted by the co-owner, Kristal, when I came in. She enthusiastically explained the menu to me: which burgers were available, the choices of condiments, and the side dishes offered. The restaurant is a creation of her and her brother, Brendan. It’s genesis is an interesting story. Several years ago, for health reasons, their mother became a pescatarian. Brendan and Kristal were having a family Fourth of July barbecue and needed to cook something their mother could eat. They had some fish on hand, so Brendan had the idea of turning them into burgers, making them suitable for grilling. The fish burgers were such a hit that their mother almost didn’t get one! After that, Kristal and Brendan started selling the burgers at the Farmers Market by the White House. About a year ago, they opened the restaurant in Shaw.
On they day I was there, two choices of fish were on the menu: salmon and mahi-mahi tuna. I went with the salmon. There was a third choice, Maryland crab-cakes, but those were sold out. Two sides were also available: a grilled Romaine salad and Japanese sweet potatoes. I wanted some vegetables, so I ordered the salad. But being fond of Japanese food, I also wanted to try the sweet potatoes. It was more than I needed, but worth it.
The salad came out first. It was amazing. It consisted of half a head of Romaine, lightly grilled, topped with granola and blueberries and finsied with a home made Caesar dressing drizzled all over. The combination was fantastic; the dressing to die for. That could have bee my meal right there.
The salmon burger and the sweet potatoes came out together. The burger was advertised as containing no fillers, and they were not kidding. This is a dense, solid burger. Nothing but meat. It really is a burger made out of salmon. The condiment I chose was a spicy sambal sauce, which complemented it perfectly. The sweet potatoes were also grilled, served with a Japnese umami plum sauce. Soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, with enough suace to give it flavor but not overpower it, the sweet potatoes made for a great side.
FishScale has a modern, industrial vibe to it. Think Chipotle, but with fish motifs. One wall is covered with a gorgeous picture of a lively, blue ocean. The atmosphere is quite warm and friendly, due in a large part to the vivaciousness of Kristal.
I loved eating there, and hope to do so again.