restaurants
Fishtag
222 West 79th Street
212 362 7470

Michael Psilakis' wonderful Fishtag, in a narrow upper west side town house, has the interior feel of Maine. A front bar where diners begin with the 'appetizing' service opens into an intimate room perfect for couples, family dinners, and smallish groups. But the seafood is neither New England nor Greek (though there are Greek elements such as house- made loukaniko). Rather the flavours represent a panoply of local and world influences; ingredients such as guanciale and chorizo make regular appearances. We liked a melt- in- mouth Long Island fluke crudo with piquillo peppers, almond, muscat grapes, and shishito aioli or the smoked calves tongue with tuna aioli, and crispy shallots. (For those hesitant to try tongue, think super tender roast beef.) The latter is served with snow pea leaves, rarely found outside of the best Chinese restaurants, served salad-style here. A smoked salmon platter includes a choice from Ireland. Grilled fishes (branzino, swordfish, striped bass) make a big appearance, but with head cheese or Middle- Eastern spices. Even Psilakis' take on a mussel pot is worldly. His is done with Tuscan kale, bacon, spicy tomato broth, and basil, and hard to stop eating even after one is full. Creativity is also evident in drink pairings. Let the staff suggest a sake or a tequila or even a white Pinot Noir from Long Island; selections one might not come up with on one's own but which work beautifully. Would you think to have a sipping rum or rye with your lamb burger? Seasonal ice cream and sorbets close the meal, in flavours such as blueberry honey, a Black Mission fig or Campari- grapefruit.

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