Best New Restaurant – Richmond Times Dispatch
Best West End Restaurant - Richmond Magazine
Best New Restaurant – Richmond Magazine
Ironfish Restaurant Review: October 7, 2011
Jon and Leah Nelson
On our last visit to the former White Anchovie, we were a bit perplexed. Everything was in place: seasoned chef, experienced owners, fresh ingredients. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t what we expected from the folks behind Pescado’s. As we noted in our review of that restaurant, the White Anchovie was still a work in progress, but had potential to improve under the tutelage of Todd Manley and company.
A few weeks later, after several mediocre reviews, an announcement came that major changes were being made. Original Chef Matthew Tlusty was moving on and Todd Manley was launching a brand new menu and name, Ironfish by Pescado’s.
While the news was shocking so soon into the restaurant’s run, we hoped this might be the catalyst needed to take this venture to the next level. The original Pescado’s in Midlothian was able to transform a spot in a non-descript suburban strip mall into a success, so why shouldn’t that work in the West End?
While it is not quite “Pescado’s West”, Ironfish does make for a more zesty and unique offering for the West End with the complex flavors and colorful presentation that was lacking from the White Anchovie.
When entering the space, not much seems to have changed. The blue awning has the new logo taped over the old one, and the same cool blue and gray color scheme prevails. The dining room may appear empty at first as most of the patrons have opted for the cozy hidden booths on the side. The new identity does make its mark with new paintings, one of which features a boat with “Ironfish” painted on the side.
One look at the menu, and you will notice a big change from the old spot. Each dish is paired with unique relishes and full accompaniments from a variety of local farms. The Latin inspiration from Pescado’s is replaced with a more Mediterranean influence, but with the same flair for intriguing flavor combinations.
Specials are usually a good bet as evidenced by our starter, a shrimp and fish cake atop a bed of sautéed broccolini with ginger butter ($11). With a nice crusty crunch, the cake married tender fish flavor with noticeable chunks of shrimp. The red chili aioli provided a slightly spicy kick while the broccolini gave the dish balance.
As with most of Todd Manley’s restaurants, fresh fish flown in daily plays a starring role. While fresh wahoo was on special during our visit, we opted for the “Bundi from Down Undi” barramundi ($21), a dish that suffered from a too-simple presentation at the White Anchovie. Luckily, we had no such issue with the Ironfish menu.
With a nicely seared crisp skin, the delicate fish inside was light, but flavorful. While the barramundi was excellent, it was really the accompaniments that make this such a good dish. A layer of corn béchamel sauce served as a base for chili and basil mashed potatoes and a slice of grilled eggplant. A topping of curried roasted corn and kiwi added a sweet note and zest that lacked in the previous presentation. The flavors were complex, but perfectly complimentary.
The “Shrimp on the Lamb” ($19) showed a similar flair for unique flavor combinations. Served on a pool of slightly spicy vodka sauce, the shrimp were plump and well-seasoned, and the merquez sausage of lamb and beef added a mild pairing. The saffron risotto cakes were serviceable only in comparison to the saffron potato cakes at the other Pescado’s locations. Potato doesn’t quite go with the Mediterranean vibe, but anyone who has tried the potato cakes may miss the smooth, decadent texture.
Dessert options are slim, but cover all of the bases. Although key lime pie is tempting, we opt for the tried and true Kahlua tiramisu ($7). The liqueur is not particularly evident, but the cake is moist with the right amount of decadence.
The West End is now lucky to have a taste of what Midlothian and Oregon Hill have been enjoying for years. While the focus is different than previous Pescado’s incarnations, Ironfish by Pescado’s brings the same flair for creative flavors and fresh ingredients to a new side of town. In a part of town swimming in large chains and pizza parlors, Ironfish is a must try for anyone looking for something more exceptional.
Press Release: August 16, 2011
RE: The White Anchovie / Ironfish by Pescados
At record breaking speed the white anchovie restaurant has begun an uncharted morph into Ironfish -Fresh fish * local farms * by pescados. The change was prompted by customer requests for larger portions, better values, and creative offerings. Greg Smiley, and Tina Manley, founding partners at the award winning original Pescados in Midlothian, along with partner Todd Manley and Pescados’ chefs, have come up with a menu of ultra fresh ingredients that are creatively prepared in the same way that Pescados does it. If you are a Pescados fan, you will certainly become an Ironfish fan!
Ironfish provides creative, iron skillet seared preparations of ultra fresh seafood, local produce, and comfort but signature dishes, in an unpretentious atmosphere with attentive, professional, friendly service. Nightly specials feature creative dishes made from availability driven sources. Ironfish can also accommodate and satisfy those non seafood diners, kids, as well as diners that suffer from food allergies. Ironfish is a neighborhood place that you can have a great meal, friendly service, fair value, and feel comfortable in casual attire. Above all, Ironfish is fun.
While the signage and the name will be the white anchovie on the outside, (until the paperwork is converted) it will be Ironfish Menu by Pescados on the inside! Diners can expect the same flair and experience they would have at Pescados at this West End destination!
Please contact General Manager Britton Marable (email@example.com) for further details or, even better, come by and visit with him!