Feed your head

Photo By David Robert

Cost for one: As children, most of us were told to eat our fish, ostensibly because it was “brain food.” If our parents were lucky, we would take a hesitant bite before declaring it inedible. Compromises would be made, and we wouldn’t see another bite of fish that wasn’t coated heavily with breading until years later. I still run into adults who won’t touch the stuff.

More and more restaurants are innovating new preparations for our underwater friends these days. Nearly gone are the days when you can only find one or two kinds of fish, all either beer-battered or slathered with cloyingly heavy cream sauces. Faced with so many choices and interesting presentations, many people feel as if they are back at their childhood table being coaxed gently to “just try it.” Fortunately, most who do are rewarded with an experience that makes them really enjoy fish. It makes me wonder if those of us who were labeled as picky eaters as kids were actually just years ahead of our time. You know, snobs.

Wild Alaskan takes fish seriously, focusing on the use of wild, organic fish rather than the widely available farmed varieties. The menu is extensive, including fish tacos with Asian and Cajun twists, sandwiches, salads and even a salmon “hot dog.” There is no evidence of anything fried.

I had seen this place and was curious to try it. I took my friend Elizabeth, who is not the world’s biggest seafood fan. She does like to try new things, though, so we trudged out into the rainy night to check it out.

Orders are placed at the counter, and the woman who took ours was helpful and cheery, offering suggestions that paid off in the form of some luscious food.

We began with a first course of “Grizzly Garlic Prawns” ($9.95). The succulent, seared prawns arrived colorfully presented, redolent with fresh garlic, with more garlic in the form of a lovely aioli for dipping.

Elizabeth ordered a roasted chicken curry dinner ($8.95), mostly to try out the house-made curry. Dinners (available after 5 p.m.) come with a choice of either Caesar salad or an interesting raspberry pine nut salad (her choice), bread and rice. It was piled high on the plate. The steaming curry was almost floral, not too strong or heavy, with just the right amount of spice for the tender chunks of chicken.

My meal was similarly satisfying. I took the suggestion to try the crab and artichoke melt ($8.95) and soon realized that I have found a new food to crave. Served on a whole grain roll, the hot mixture of crab, artichoke hearts, tomato and scallions was topped with a crisp layer of parmesan cheese that added a pleasant crunch to the sandwich. Remember sneaking your potato chips into your sandwich at lunch? This is the grownup version, and it is way better. Trust me.

While our whole experience was pleasant, and the decor of the restaurant was cozy and warm, there was one thing I would have changed. With all the attention paid to the food, it was presented on disposable plates. This may ease the dishwasher’s job, but it doesn’t seem to fit with either the concept or the prices. Organic food and Styrofoam just don’t go together. The food is just too good for it, and it deserves a real plate to showcase the care being put into it.

So check this place out. You might find that "brain food" has some real benefits for your hungry tummy as well.