Do you like fish?
I know I do.
When I’ve been some years ago in Croatia, I remember like it was yesterday the damn “day cruise” we’ve taken in order to check out the islands around the beautiful Dubrovnik. I’ll never forget the expression of the guy in the tourist shop, selling us his trip, one of the arguments being that we will also have lunch on the boat with “fish this big” while spreading his palms and showing us something that should’ve been a swordfish or something. Of course, the fish was so small that we went scavenging for bread on those small islands. Stupid tourists (us), lying tourist packages sellers (them).
Luckily for me, a big fish and seafood fan, the Romanian Black Sea coast got more and more developed in the domain of restaurants in the last years and good fish places started to pop-up. While about 13-14 years I would go to Constanța and manage to eat some unfrozen mussels in some red sauce in the only place on the docks (serving and existing at that time) – the old “On Plonge” – I guess the people from Constanța know what I mean – now you can find not only diversity but also great places to spend your hard earned cash for fresh fish.
“Golful Pescarilor” – my second choice only once
We’ve left the city with the clear intention on going to another, more famous restaurant, set on the same piece of beach, “Matei’s fish house” – Matei is the owner. Everybody in Romania is going crazy for that place and, after checking out if one can reserve in their “fancy” place, we proceeded to take our chances as they were not…that is NOT MAKING RESERVATIONS. WTF?
Full season, people hungry, like termites looking for something to chew, what do you think? Did we find a place to put our asses down and have any kind of fish plate? Nop. Of course, we didn’t find anything at that motherfucking restaurant that I will not visit again. Fuck you Matei and fuck your fish house. No, I will not stay one hour to wait for somebody to finish and get up. That could be avoided by making a reservation, you damn son of the bitch who thinks that if you’re on a roll now, you’ll always be. No worries mate, I’ll just go and become a returning customer to your neighbour, the guy who owns “Golful Pescarilor“.
Don’t go to “Matei’s fish house”
Yeah, because I’m a motherfucker this post is both for advertising purposes but also anti-advertising purposes. I just want you to understand that on this small beach there are these two places: the first one is a place for tourists to go and take their Instagram photos and show off while the other is for the people who know what they want: fish that is.
As soon as you leave behind the place of Matei, you will start to see decorations on the outside of this other fish tavern and attention to details, even before entering their courtyard. The place is big if you consider that it has a huge terrace: practically it’s impossible not to get a table there unless it’s raining. Otherwise, you will find a 2 people table in order to satisfy your hunger. Still, on the inside, things don’t go lower the level either, but on the contrary. The decorations inside are beautiful, they are thematic but not in a cheesy way.
The beach is right nearby and the beautiful thing is that this small piece of land is much cooler and less crowded than 300 meters away, on the beach of this Matei that only improvised a children playground in order to keep the children busy while their parents wait for the fucking hour to pass until they may be getting a table or until they make an appeal to Matei’s pity probably. When they totally starve. Pathetic facebook idiots.
I practically took my time on the outside while waiting (not more than 30 minutes) for the food. While on the other side, if I would’ve stayed and found a table (but I did not), I would’ve made a “street photography” session, with crowds waiting like cattle for a table and cars trying to find a place to park; instead over here I went outside and took some random shots, of which some you’ve seen a little bit earlier and some will follow. Why? Because there were interesting things to photograph, the people here ready constructed a nice atmosphere which made clients opt for the outside tables in spite of the “almost rainy day” and of the wind.
“Sorry miss! There’s a fish in my food!”
“Golful Pescarilor” has a great and thick variety of “a la carte” fish courses. You can check it out over here. It combines in a very pleasant way (and I’ll explain a little lower what is “pleasant” about it) three types of food cuisines: Romanian Black Sea cuisine, Danube Delta cuisine and some international seafood platers that are a “must carry” these days. I tried the things that are for sure to be fresh here and that is Black Sea fish:
a) fish meatballs – Danube Delta style; that was my opening card since I saw them on the menu so I couldn’t just skip over them. I fell in love with the fish meatballs since I started being a regular tourist around the Delta that the Danube forms when it spills over into the Black Sea. But these guys…oh you guys! They served these meatballs with some sweet and sour sauce that made my day. I would only say that the meat has to be way better chopped as I found pretty big pieces of fish bones through them. That’s a big nono.
b) horse mackerel (you can check out the first picture) on the flat metal sheet, over the wood barbeque, sitting on top of a sea salt bed. Well fried. Apart from that, the plate had some lemon and olive oil dressing salad, while the fish was served on top of this baked triangle of polenta. Underneath it all, there was a slight drop (and when I say “slight” I mean ” too little” – I wish there was a drop more) of some incredible nettle sauce – I THINK.
OK!, the fish, for me as a Romanian, having this sort of a way of cooking it, is not something new or spectacular. What made the plate REALLY rise my eyebrow was:
- that nettle sauce – if there were really nettles! it sure looked and tasted like it and STUPID me, I didn’t ask the waiter about it; this is that sort of thing I’ll just have to remember having to say the next time I go there.
- that polenta – it’s like my grandmother met with my girlfriend (she makes a great polenta) and then met with this old lady that was living right across the street from my other grandma’s house (she was making incredible polenta too, I remember it since I was 4-5 years old) and then they all three conjured their magical polenta making powers and came up with the motherfucking pinnacle of polenta!
Of course, the kid was with us and because the kid was there, she had to serve the ocean fish. You know, small mouth, small kid, you don’t want her to meet the old “fishbone in the neck”. So a Dorada was the choice and of course, it wasn’ fresh, as it doesn’t just grow in these waters but let me tell you that it was damn tasty. And damn ugly.
The thing for Instagram here would be to take a whole big fish. They have it on the menu and it is a feast and a show in the same time because of the way they present to you the monster, before cutting and cooking takes place, on a big plater with the waiter holding it onto his shoulder like you see the roasted pigs being delivered in the medieval feast scenes in cartoons. But damn it looks tasty when they deliver it in slices and accompanied by all sorts of vegetables on the grill, sauces and so on. A tasty show I’ll tell you that and to my shame, I’m more inclined to spend on this than on any other hundred/thousand/tens of thousands of dollars champagnes, the ones that they roll out in the clubs these days.
They pack a tasty lemonade and they seem to have a good selection of wines that I’ll have to try one of this summer’s nights when I’m in town. You know I’m not a big drinker and this was a lunch only, not a dinner. I rarely booze myself during those hours. The lemonade though comes immediately after you order it, is fresh, cold and has the right amount of honey and mint. Good one (and I specify it because a lot of places tend to miss even the simplest lemonade). I tend to judge…sorry.
Would I recommend this to a foreign tourist that wants to try our fish cuisine? Of course! Mind the fishbones though, these water have pretty small fish, with small bones but nasty as hell.
Is it the best that the Romanian Black Sea fish cuisine has to offer? Definitely not but it has some great elements that I tasted in their plates that were unique (to me) and I definitely want to try more.
There’s also the atmosphere it creates, especially on a windy day like we’ve had when we’ve been there, that really combines well with a fish plate, be it either fried on the metal sheet or some steamy stew or maybe even fish soup. Just the right amount of hot and green, fresh pepper aside. Though for the latter I think I found the best there is on the Romanian Black Sea seashore, the authentic one they make right in the heart of the Delta of Danube.
But I’ll show it to you in another episode. Don’t be greedy.