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Satisfying Saturdays

89 GO FISH 641 Main Street St. Helena California 707-963-0721

By Charles Olken

Perhaps it is the New Englander in me, but I get a little weak in the knees when offered a chance to eat at a good seafooder. We have plenty of them in the Bay Area from Tadich’s for old-fashioned fish and big French Fries with the best sourdough bread to Yankee Pier with its reminiscences of home to Berkeley’s Sea Salt, a new favorite of ours. But, you would not expect to find a great seafooder in the Napa Valley. Sure, there are some decent whites made there, but this is red wine country and Cindy Pawlcyn’s GO FISH cannot even smell the ocean on a windy day. And yes, this is the same Cindy Pawlcyn whose Mustards Restaurant has been worshipped for years and whose Cindy’s Backstreet off the main drag in St. Helena offers the best comfort food in the Napa Valley.

I happen to like GO FISH for lunch rather than dinner. This is a restaurant whose menu does not exactly encourage one to pull the cork on a deep and bold Cabernet Sauvignon. Let me have my seafood grills and my sushi with lunch thanks and I am happy to luxuriate in one of the best white wine lists anywhere. And, as a good restaurant should, in my opinion, it has a fairly priced wine by the glass program and an entire selection of favorably priced wines called 27 for $27. The sushi choices span the range from relatively simple to combinations that are Chef Ken Tominaga’s special creations. No cream cheese mixups here. Special sushi means just that. I admit to being especially partial to the mussels appetizer and the fish and chips because it just does not get any better than that at any of my seafood haunts. But, my secret, feed my passion menu is a handful of oysters and a couple of special sushi items.

The Napa Valley is loaded with fine restaurants. Over time, we will take you inside places that offer some of the most sophisticated East Asian Indian cooking in the Bay Area, to our favorite vegetarian restaurant, and yes, if we can get a reservation, back to the French Laundry after a several year hiatus (not that we have not tried, but this is the toughest reservation around, and well worth it if you have just knocked over the treasury at Fort Knox). But, not only is GO FISH the best for seafood in the valley, it is among our favorites for a mid-day stop.


Go Fish
by Christian Miller
Posted on:9/26/2010 10:42:09 PM
I too have had a number of excellent meals at Go Fish. The fry cook has a deft touch with calamari and tempura too. It's curious that it doesn't get more press among the valley restaurants. Perhaps fresh, light seafood is a non-sequitur to all that Cabocentricism.
Go Fish
by Terry Rooney
Posted on:9/27/2010 11:12:34 PM
Well, Charlie, maybe I'll try it again based on your good experiences. Our first time was not memorable for dinner.I love Mustards, and will be there next week. That's the reliable one in my book.
A Fisherman Must Be Patient
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:9/27/2010 11:27:04 PM
Terry, I would not go there for dinner myself unless I wanted oysters or sushi. This is no Tadich Grill. But I would gladly go there for lunch. Part of it is personal taste. I rarely eat red meat at lunch so a lighter meal with lighter wines, especially in the middle of the day in the Napa Valley, is often in order for me. But, yes, Mustards or Cindy's Back Street, just to start the conversation for dinner, and before we get to places like French Laundry, La Toque, Meadowood, Martini House, Bistro Jeanty, Bouchon, Celadon, Cole's Chop House, Ubuntu to continue the string of what I consider dinner places. Drop a note if you go back to Go Fish, please.

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