Saturday, September 3, 2011

A bountiful seafood meal at a discount

FishImage by fritzmb via Flickr
At Nisi Estiatorio in Englewood, every server is a fish salesman.

Before dinner service begins, the servers meet with the chef to taste and discuss the texture and flavor of the fresh fish sold by the pound, as well as the special available that evening, so they can brief customers. 

The fresh seafood -- turbot, red snapper, European sea bass, Scottish langoustines and more -- are buried in ice in a beautiful dining-room display set against a soothing waterfall, and the servers encourage customers to look over the choices before ordering.

The motto of this expensive Greek fish house is written at the bottom of every check: "Eat Fish Live Longer." You might think the phrase needs punctuation, but you can't argue with the sentiment.

On Friday, I had my first dinner at Nisi -- using a Groupon for $50 worth of food and drink I bought online for only $25.

I ordered dishes and a glass of wine that added up to $50 exactly, then used my credit card to cover the tax and tip, a total of $11. My $36 bought a four-course seafood meal with a total cost of $61.

I concentrated on small plates, an octopus salad ($18) and two appetizers,  Portuguese sardines and wild-caught Shrimp Saganaki ($12 each), plus a glass of Greek retsina or resin wine ($8).

After taking my order and heading for the kitchen, the waiter returned and said the restaurant was out of octopus, which seemed odd for a Greek place. 

And before I left, I heard another waiter taking a grilled octopus order from another customer, though I didn't actually see the dish delivered to the table.

So, I took another look at the menu and substituted Fasolada ($8), a white-bean-and-vegetable soup, and a salad called Roca Nisi ($10) for the octopus salad.
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10:  The Groupon logo is di...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The soup, served in a large bowl, was thick and delicious, and the salad was wonderful, with a winning combination of micro greens, diced beets, cheese, fresh orange pieces and crispy, spiced walnuts.

I got five fresh sardines, simply grilled, and really enjoyed them, even though it took a little work to remove the bones of these mighty little fish.

I was full, and would have been happy to end the meal there, but then the waiter brought me a small ramekin filled with savory, saffron-flavored tomato sauce and melted feta cheese that hid four large, unusually tender shrimp.

I ate it all with a spoon. That meal was what I call a "belly buster." Two could have shared it as a light supper.

At home a couple of hours later, I had dessert: Greek-style non-fat yogurt with honey.

Nisi Estiatorio, 90 Grand Ave., Englewood; 201-567-4700.
Valet and street parking.

Web site: Eat fish, live longer

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