Before I write this review I must tell you that I am a former employee of Mitchell’s Fish Market. 10 years ago I was the Saucier, and responsible for all product received during the day. I will do my best to write in an unbiased manner.
Since leaving the Fish Market I have been back many times for dinner. My cousin, who lives in New York, likes it there because they’re accommodating for large parties. We usually have close to 20 people when we go for dinner, and get a private room; I think it’s called the Captain’s Quarters or something clever like that.
We usually go all-out, meaning lots of food! Before even looking at the menu we get a few orders of Crab Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($12.95), Old Bay Peel and Eat Shrimp ($10.95), and Colossal Shrimp Cocktail ($13.95). The Crab and Spinach Dip is hot and viscous; we often burn our mouths because we’re too impatient to let it cool down- more beer please! The peel and Eat Shrimp are good- they’re big enough for a mouthful, and the Old Bay leaves just the right amount of zing on your lips- it’s also fun peeling the little critters; it feels like you’ve earned your meal. The Colossal Shrimp Cocktail is refreshing, and tastes salty with the horseradish and cocktail sauce. After a few drinks, and plenty of apps. we move on to our main courses.
Before getting into the specifics of what was ordered, there are three ways to have your seafood prepared: Shang Hai Style, steamed with fresh ginger, scallions and served with sticky rice, spinach and rice wine soy sauce. Grilled or Broiled, served with scallion mashed potatoes, sweet shallot butter and market vegetables. Lastly, you can try Blackened Style; with etouffe sauce, shrimp and andouille jambalaya rice, green beans, mushrooms and cane syrup. Most of us get some type of seafood; The Cedar Plank Salmon ($20.95, Salmon baked on a cedar plank with roasted Veggies and Goat Cheese), Chesapeake Bay Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes ($23.95, with scallion mashed potatoes and sweet corn sauté), and Hoisin Glazed Yellow Fin Tuna ($24.95, with stir-fry vegetables and sticky rice and wasabi). A few others (including me, ordered steaks) Filet Mignon ($28.95, served with Béarnaise sauce, baked potato and asparagus). I always order my steak medium rare-what’s the point in destroying good meat with temperature? Well, the cut of meat was prepared perfectly; preserving the natural juices and tenderness of the protein. I didn’t hear any complaints around the table either- everyone seemed quite content with their fresh salmon, tuna, and crab cakes. As our plates were cleared, we asked to see the dessert menu. Once again, we always order the same thing: the 7-layer carrot cake ($6.95), Key Lime Pie with Macadamia Nut Crust ($5.95), and the “Sharkfin” Pie ($6.50). The desserts at Mitchell’s Fish Market are memorable…the Key Lime Pie is the best in the city (in my opinion), and the carrot cake is moist, and full of raisins, spices and nuts.
I know that Mitchell’s has changed ownership since I’ve been there, but I’m sure procedure in the kitchen has remained the same. So, you’re going to get the skinny on what really happens behind the scenes- how fresh is the fish? Well, here goes. The fish comes in daily. It’s usually caught within 24 hours of delivery. As soon as it’s received, it is placed in the cooler and processed. What do I mean by processed? Well, there’s a fish cutter (we called him Fishy) and his job is to stay in that cooler and cut fish- all day. The soups are made on a daily basis; I was responsible for the Lobster Bisque, Clam Chowder, and Seafood Gumbo. I can remember washing the Lobster Shells off before I prepared the soup; it’s authentic, believe me. All of the sauces are made on-site, and fresh. The crab cakes are made with real jumbo-lump crab meat, spices, and fresh bread crumbs. The potatoes for the mashers are hand-peeled (at least when I was there) and seasoned with salt pepper, and finished with cream. The kitchen was always clean and managed well- a difficult task when operating at such a high volume. So, there you have it, the honest truth from someone who has been there.
Visit Mitchell’s Fish Market, it may be a bit more expensive that what you’re accustomed to, but the freshness of the food and quality of service is well worth it.Mitchell’s Fish Market 185 Waterfront Drive W Pittsburgh, PA 151120 mitchellsfishmarket.com