Making ocean waves in the Philly food circuit is aether Fishtown, a seafood-centric eatery that features a raw bar and seafood towers. Located at 1832 Frankford Ave., the restaurant officially opened on February 7.
“I opened aether to offer diners high-quality seafood at an affordable cost in a hip environment,” said Fia Berisha, co-owner and operating partner of aether Fishtown. “So far, our guests have been extremely receptive to the concept, pushing us to break the boundaries, even more, when it comes to seafood exploration and education.”
Before breaking ground on aether Fishtown, Berisha explained her seafood palate was inspired by a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. She also worked closely with Executive Chef Scott Anderson and Chef De Cuisine Mike Ryan of aether Fishtown’s sister restaurants Mistral in King of Prussia and elements in Princeton, N.J., to learn about “seafood at the highest quality in its most natural form.”
The overall experience at aether Fishtown is one of the decadences, well-composed dishes in a stylish restaurant with an open concept layout.
While the cocktails ($13) tried to reach a balanced flavor, they tiptoed on the boozier side with heavy use of mezcal and its smoky flavor profile. Giving a literal eye-opening pow to each sip, the Bitter Ex is made with mezcal, Aperol, maraschino liqueur, lime juice, and grapefruit twist and New Jawn, comprised of cognac, apple simple syrup, lemon juice, triple sec, and mezcal.
The appetizer menu supports a strong array of options, from Shrimp Toast ($14) with dal, chili marinated shrimp, curry yogurt, and roasted cauliflower to Crème Fraîche and Trout Roe ($18) with yuzu crème fraîche, horseradish, and potato chips. The Cauliflower Tahini ($11) is a shareable and satisfying small plate with its tamarind, pickled raisin, vadouvan, hazelnut dukkah and tasty naan that lends itself to a fluffier texture.
For a bit of spice, the Hollander Mussels ($15) is a must featuring garlic, ginger, cilantro, chili and peanuts. A unique take on a classic seafood item, the heat-filled broth based can be soaked up with paired crostinis.
For main dishes, the restaurant highlights a lengthy array of pastas, such as Saffron Risotto ($21) with shrimp chorizo, clams, mussels and roasted tomatoes. There’s also Crab Linguine ($18) featuring parsley, parmesan, chili and mushroom. Salad selections showcase a Smoked Trout Salad ($16) with dill, crème fraîche, frisée, and apple squid. In addition, there’s a Watercress Salad ($15) with chili, lime vinaigrette, cashew, and crispy garlic, and Kale Salad ($12) with chermoula vinaigrette, squash, black tahini, pomegranate, crispy grains, and labneh.
Among sandwiches options, which are served with waffle fries, choices include a Lobster Roll ($28) celery, tobiko, and brioche and Shrimp Po’ Boy ($17) lettuce, pickle, tomato, crispy red onion, and creole aioli.
Large seafood plates include Scallops ($27) with apple, frisée, cippolini, bacon vinaigrette, brussels, and sprouts. There’s Tuna ($28) with cracked seed crusted and seared, tomatillo dashi, eggplant, and shiitake mushrooms. Finally, there’s a Crispy Fried Whole Branzino ($29) with XO sauce, cured pork, bok choy, and turnip.
The Ocean Trout ($28) is an absolutely delicious entrée, complete with crispy fish skin. The dish features raita, roasted winter vegetables, charred brussels sprouts, tamarind and mustard seed. While the Monk Fish ($26) had a beautiful presentation, displayed over a bowl of Thai chicken sausage, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, tom yum and chili oil, the fish in this instance was a tad overcooked and certainly under seasoned.
If you do not like seafood then you best look elsewhere for your dining pleasure than aether Fishtown. However, the seafood joint also serves the aether Dry Aged Burger ($16) with bacon jam, garlic aioli, lettuce, tomato, and onion, and Steak Frites ($39) with au Poivre sauce, charred onion, roasted garlic, and shoestring fries.
The filling dishes do not leave much room for dessert, but if you do carve out some added abdominal space for the final course, the menu showcases three varied dishes ($8). For a lighter option to finish off a heavy meal, there is a Citrus Napolean with white chocolate and yuzu. In contrast, there is a rich Chocolate Cheesecake with wild blueberry and shiso. Forgoing the classic dessert, patrons can also order the Kunik Cheese with blueberry mostarda, frisee, and toast.