Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Metro Fish
Murray Hill, NY
212-683-6444

Review by Diana DeRiggs

Guess what this restaurant specializes in? To underscore the point, there is a fishmonger's display, with plenty of cracked ice, with raw denizens of the oceans placed atop. As testament to the freshness of the produce, I didn't notice it at all. I had a 20 minute wait in this place while I waited for the other two members of this party to show up. I looked at the many photos on the walls showing the owner with various minor starlets and occasional major ones. Normally, I would consider that to be bad news, but the guy who invited me swore it's a great place.

It's kind of old fashioned -- business lunch type of place with tableclothes, silver, cozy tables big enough for the big plates. They brought out bread, sweet butter (with a little paper cover over it with the name of the restaurant printed on ... my lunch partner kept looking for the butter and didn't realize this was it) and salad while we surveyed the menu. I was the only female in the place, which was a little weird. In this day and age, you'd think men and women would frequent a joint like this, but it was all men of a certain type. Wearing leather jackets indoors without ties. And everyone seemed to know one another. At least they removed their sunglasses.

The third member of our party never materialized, so though I only had an hour for lunch, it got squeezed down to 25 minutes. He ordered grilled salmon, telling me he never has it at home. I decided on two appetizers -- oysters rockefeller and "Grilled Octopus Metro Style."

Because of the clientele and the general atmosphere of the place, I thought the "Mediterranean" ambiance meant Italian. It normally does in this town. But I realized when I got the octopus that they were actually Greek. To my surprise, I got a little bowl of what looked like hearts-of-palm in a vinegary, lemony, non-oily sauce, flecked with herbs. Instead of cutting the octopus across the tenticle, the limb was cut about two inches long, then "filleted" -- rounded strips of muscle running along the length of the arm were filleted out. It was marinated and grilled, then dunked into the sauce. It was incredibly tender, charred just so, really tasty. I don't normally like vinegary flavors (you might recall I'm not crazy about German or Japanese food or for pickles in general) and my mouth did pucker, but as an appetizer-sized course, it was perfect.

The Oysters Rockefeller were huge, and came four huge shells to a serving. The topping is normally chopped spinach with mustard, cream and anise-flavored liqueur. The spinach was clean, tasty and cooked nicely, but not chopped. I couldn't eat this huge thing in one gulp, so I took forkfuls of spinach, then ended with the oyster swimming at the bottom in the cream sauce. It was good, but really, it wasn't Oysters Rockefeller.

My partner's salmon came simply grilled, with perfectly cooked vegetables set on the plate in little piles. The sauce was also in a little dollop off to the side. No need to cover the fish in anything. This is really a man's dish, in that nothing is tossed together, and it's presented almost like an adult version of a child's plate. Think about it -- children don't like their food touching each other, and they love divided plates. There's a reason for that! Many men are children, of course ...

We didn't have time for dessert, but with coffee, they brought out chocolate biscotti, two per person. I really was too full, and I'd extended my hour into 1.5 hours. I regretted having to apologize and run out. It was a nice place, the waiters were obsequious or invisible, as they should be. I want to go back for more octopus!


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