Restaurant Review – December 2010

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review December 2010

Fish Story…
Napa’s Latest Catch is a Keeper!
By Dorothy and John Salmon

When your name is Salmon, every story that you tell is a fish story. So, it was not surprising that we had the good fortune to be selected in the “Best Fish Story Contest” and to dine at Fish Story Napa River before it officially opened. Our fish story now proudly hangs on the wall with our fellow winners. It includes photos of the whale that circled our boat and swam away to sea under the Golden Gate Bridge (I know, I know, a whale isn’t a fish, but they eat fish, don’t they?)  .
Doing the pre-opening tasting test run at Fish Story was not a hard gig. The restaurant is lovely, with plenty of inside and outside dining on the Napa River.  It’s the only place we know that has fish hooks hanging from the ceiling as décor. This is the newest restaurant in the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, joining successes at Tavern at Lark Creek, Yankee Pier in Larkspur, Parcel 104 in Santa Clara, Bradley Ogden at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, and One Market Restaurant, just to name a few. Lark Creek Founders Michael and Leslye Dellar live in Napa, and they are two of our favorite people in town. With Fish Story they add yet another first class restaurant that is elegant, serves amazing food and brings more life to the banks of the Napa River.

While you can guess that Fish Story is a seafood restaurant, you should know that it only serves fresh, sustainably-harvested fish under the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guidelines, which is a serious commitment to the healthy future of the oceans and the seafood it provides. Together with wonderful food, you get a lesson in sustainability with people who walk their talk. Fish Story is beautiful and upbeat.  You enter through a fence-line of trees in large pots, and a humorous octopus fountain.  Inside, is a beautiful U shaped bar next to two huge stainless steel brewing tanks for Fish Story’s signature Ale. (We were back at Fish Story this weekend and the bar was packed as was the restaurant inside and out!)  Good news…

We live on the Napa River and spend as much time as we can on our boat, so Fish Story feels like home to us. Before dinner, stop at the bar and have one of their signature drinks, such as Autumn Leaves made with Flor de Cana 7 year rum, Veev acai, quince jam and lemon ($10) or a Blond Saint made with Junipero gin, Lillet blond, St Germain elderflower with an orange slice ($10).  Fish Story has great beers and wine on tap, plus signature lemonades, if you are taking it easy at the bar or have children with you.

On your way to the main dining room, you will pass a beautiful wine cellar and, of course, the “Fish Stories” from and about local folks you probably know. If you want to dine on Dungeness Crab or Maine Lobster, you can see them swimming in large tanks before they are served on your plate. When you get to the dining room, you will see that there is plenty of outside seating to enjoy the best of the Napa River and the bustle of Third Street. That area is well protected by space heaters, awnings and umbrellas.  In the adjacent Riverfront room is space enough to host your next birthday party for 30 of your best friends.

When we walked into Fish Story we were greeted by Michael Dellar and General Manager, Treg Finney, both old friends. Treg has more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant business, even though he looks only 30. Fifteen years before opening Fish Story he was part of the team that opened One Market, and he spent many years as the manager at Angele just down the street.  Before that, you might have known him at Martini House in St. Helena. We are delighted to see him at Fish Story! Another familiar face is Chef Stephen Barber from BarbersQ in Napa and Tartaglia. Chef Barber grows the restaurant’s organic vegetables at Copia’s chefs’ garden and purchases poultry and other products locally as well.


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