Cityfish is not new to the downtown Orlando dining scene, but it is a restaurant that is often overlooked. Created in 2007 by the Urban Life Management Restaurant Group, Cityfish has a laid-back, comfy charm.
The restaurant's exterior has a large wraparound dining patio that fronts Central Boulevard. Inside, the dining room is dominated by a bar the runs along one wall.
Coastal seafood shack meets the city is the aim and, with a nicely restrained decor, management has cast its line in good form.
We started with jalapeno hush puppies ($5) with a Key lime-herb mayonnaise. The dense fritters had a subtle sweetness and were cooked to crisp-exterior, soft-interior perfection. Although each hush puppy had a hint of heat, I would have liked them better with a bit more peppery kick.
The crispy pickles ($5) were the best fried cukes I have had in a long time. A clean, well-regulated deep-fryer can make a huge difference in how food tastes and the texture imparted from battered items. Our appetizer was paired with a smooth and spicy ranch dipping sauce.
For entrees, you can't go wrong with Cityfish's lobster roll ($22). The sweet, chilled shellfish is chopped and mixed into a luxurious mayonnaise-laced salad and packed into a buttery toasted bun that is reminiscent of a hot dog holder. The price may seem high, but it is an ample serving of lobster. Killer Old Bay-seasoned hot fries were the bed for the roll and coleslaw comes on the side. (The creamy slaw is Southern gosh-darn good with crisp cabbage and good balance of sweet and sour in the mix.)
Our fish and chips basket ($14) came with several lightly battered pieces of cod and a lemony house-made tartar sauce.
The soft-shell crab sandwich ($14) was a thing of beauty. The meaty, rich crabmeat played nicely against the soft flour-dusted roll. A smidge of garlic balanced out the creamy condiment on the side. (For the uninitiated, soft-shell crabs are shellfish that have recently shed their exoskeleton, making them soft and pliable to eat whole. Blue crab is the main species found on menus.)
Shrimp tacos ($9) were presented with black beans and roasted corn kernels on the side as well as a fresh-chopped salsa of tomatoes, onions and herbs. A good allotment of plump and juicy shrimp was packed into three soft tortillas. Tri-color corn chips completed the basket. I used a light smear of the spicy ranch dipping sauce from the fried pickles to moisten the tacos just a bit more.
Servers on both visits were knowledgeable, friendly and efficient.
Cityfish, along with sister restaurants Hue, Kres Chophouse and Citrus, continue to offer a good mix of dining options in downtown Orlando. While Hue, Kres and Citrus are much more upscale in decor and menu scope, Cityfish certainly brings an upscale edge to fish-shack fare. Drop anchor and check it out.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5498. Follow Heather McPherson on Twitter: @OS_thedish
The Dishon dining
Where: 617 E. Central Blvd., Orlando (between North Eola Drive and Summerlin Avenue in
When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily (11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday brunch)
How much: $10-$22
Beverages: Full bar
Wines by the glass: From $5
Noise level: Moderate buzz
Wheelchair access: Easy
Extras: Outdoor dining, table service, walk-ins welcome, good for groups, family-friendly, takeout, drink specials
Online: cityfishorlando.com and CityFish Restaurant on Facebook
Diningon a budget