Surf and Turf roll. photography by Kevin Hunter Marple

Review: Go Fish Ocean Club

Mike Hoque’s newest seafood offering upgrades the Go Fish formula.

You could call Go Fish Ocean Club “Version 2.0” of Go Fish, the seafood restaurant that opened on Belt Line Road in 2005. But you’d hardly recognize it—a spiffy location and an appealing menu seal it as brand-new.

Owner Mike Hoque, the seafood missionary who also owns Dallas Fish Market in downtown Dallas and the steadily growing fast-casual chain Fish Express, moved this signature concept to the Village on the Green, a new center behind the Galleria mall. The Village is not the easiest place to find. One high-profile restaurant there, BLT Steak, has already closed. But compared to Go Fish’s former cramped space, it’s a step up.

What it resembles most is not Go Fish Version 1, but instead Dallas Fish Market, its downtown sibling. It has the same highly visible cash outlay on interior design, the same hiring approach in the kitchen—i.e., an unknown but promising young chef. In this case, the chef is Tiffany Derry, who previously opened the Grotto in Uptown before becoming an instructor at the Art Institute of Dallas. She may only be 25, but she’s a culinary whiz kid with a well-defined perspective that has helped give Go Fish a refreshing update.

Staples consisted of chicken, filet mignon, rib-eye, and bone-in pork chop. The rotating seasonal stuff is all fish, dependent entirely on what’s available. She favors Asian flavors but incorporates all cuisines.

Owner Mike Hoque. photography by Kevin Hunter Marple
Striped bass with crabmeat had a German touch in the side of fennel-scented red cabbage braised in vinegar and sugar. Swordfish went Italian with olive tapenade, white cannelloni beans, and broccolini. Presentation was nifty, with the components arranged consecutively on a rectangular plate.

Seafood stew, a typical version with tomato saffron broth, was a tip-off that this isn’t the old Go Fish, noted for its chili-infused “green soup” devised by former chef Chris Svalesen. But lobster bisque made up for it, with a lobster essence so profound and a texture so creamy, it felt as if Derry invented it. She did it by making her own stock from lobster shells to get a solid flavor base and then adding bits of lobster to the bisque right before serving so they held their own.

So many places do seared tuna crusted with sesame seeds, but this version stood out with its savvy contrast between the firm, warm edges and the soft texture of the rare-red center. Lemon-grass-infused risotto with crab made for a luxurious side.

Cowgirl ribeye. photography by Kevin Hunter Marple
Skip the usual mussels in white wine for the sexier clams in a robust chorizo broth. Still in their shells, the clams were pleasingly chewy-tender. But the best thing about this kind of shellfish dish is the broth. This one was spicy, with garlic and cilantro, chunks of chorizo, and juicy shreds of whole tomato—as good sipped from the bowl as it was sopped with the whole-grain house bread.

There’s almost as much raw fish as cooked, from oysters on the half shell to a sushi sampler. One sushi roll draped extra-thin slices of tenderloin over rice filled with spicy tuna. The beef had none of those tiny strings of fat that make it hard to cleave. The thin, red sheets were as tender and easy to bite as the grains of rice.

You could make a meal of the rainbow tower appetizer, a clean-edged cylinder with layers of rice, salmon, tuna, kampachi (a popular farmed fish), and crab. You’re supposed to smash it all together with chopsticks (or fork) into a comforting, raw fish hash. The crabmeat gave this version a luscious indulgence, heightened by drizzles of wasabi cream.

Not everything at Go Fish Ocean Club was so spot-on. Pork chops were meek. Lobster macaroni and cheese, made with orzo pasta instead of the usual elbow, came across bland. The wine list seemed underdeveloped, with too few wines by the glass. Desserts such as bananas Foster were simple. Unfortunately, the staff was dim and inexperienced. One server accidentally charged for two bottles of unordered champagne. A new manager has been put in place who hopefully will right the ship.

Chocolate torte. photography by Kevin Hunter Marple
Speaking of ships, Go Fish has portholes—slightly kitschy, as are the tube lights hanging over the dining room, meant to resemble coral reefs. Hoque supposedly plowed $2 million into the décor, much of which you can spot at the entrance. Swarovski crystal pendants hang over the hostess stand, across from a 30-foot waterfall lined with iridescent glass tiles, not far from a bar lined with pale-blue chairs and brown leather banquettes—all the bells and whistles you hope for in a 2.0.

Get contact information for Go Fish Ocean Club.