Friday, August 14, 2009

Greek restaurant executes fish

A Greek restaurant in Ramsey appears to be lopping off the heads of fresh fish with a guillotine or maybe lining them up in front of a firing squad.

That's what I understood from The Record's report today on Varka Estiatorio, where, the reviewer writes in the data box, the food is "exceptionally executed." I think she meant to say "well-executed," but her copy editor was probably out to lunch.

It's unclear why The Record's Elisa Ung reviewed this restaurant, which has undergone no major changes since the initial, three-star review in 2005, or why it got a three-and-a-half-star rating, despite some poorly prepared dishes, farmed fish for up to $29 a pound, and one of the waiter's dropping a fresh pompano on the floor and then returning it to the display.

Could it be that the restaurant is a regular advertiser and asked for another review after Ung gave three-and-a-half stars in April to a new, competing, Greek fish house in Englewood, Nisi Estiatorio?

The Englewood restaurant charges up to $38 a pound for whole fish (which I thought was outrageous), but the Ramsey fish house has the chutzpah to ask for up to $50 a pound. You should know fish is a cheap commodity -- routinely flown halfway around the world and retailed for well under $10 a pound at Korean fish markets.

But Ung doesn't question the prices, just says they are "high, though justified given the quality of the food." Farmed seafood isn't quality; wild is. Even the sea scallops are farmed, according to her report. There's no explanation why the Ramsey restaurant doesn't serve wild scallops from the fleet at Barnegat Light, which is famous for that shellfish.

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