Go Fish

A second main plate comprised Chilean sea bass partnered by another appealing concoction: shredded zucchini, toasted almonds, and shaved Pecorino. The distinct but not overwhelming flavors greatly complemented the sea bass, which had been pan-roasted to a glossy veneer.

Wood-grilled salmon, on the other hand, could have used some jazz. A plain preparation, the fillet was burned in places, and the grain mustard that underscored it was too powerful, obliterating the salmon's flavor. A side of steamed asparagus was limp, as if with shock from being cooked too long, and a scoop of wild rice tasted overboiled, devoid of nutty goodness.

I was also a bit disappointed by the wood-grilled boneless chicken half, but only because the poultry we were served looked as if it had been pan-fried rather than wood-grilled, flattened like a pair of skinless, boneless breast halves. Fortunately the meat was tender and succulent, the side dishes simple winners: a pile of fresh sauteed spinach and a large scoop of mashed potatoes that absorbed the chicken's juices.

If the New American theme doesn't appeal, check out a small a la carte section at the bottom of the menu. Fish can be a picky eater's paradise -- just choose one of the ten menu items, which range from salmon to prawns to chicken to steak; a preparation (grilled, pan-roasted, or steamed); and a sauce (grain mustard, au poivre, scallion, or arugula). Listed under a heading called "side plates," a la carte vegetables and starches (not included in the price of the main course) complete the selective diner's meal.

Portions at Fish are plentiful, and we debated the wisdom of dessert -- until we saw the menu. Hedy Goldsmith has a wonderful touch with sweets, especially a large, elegant truffle made with intertwined dark and white chocolate. The two chocolates presented distinct tastes and textures, and the raspberries and blueberries sprinkled over them added out-of-season tartness. A cookie plate didn't sound as upscale, but that suited us fine. Four kinds of cookies -- cranberry biscotti, chocolate-almond mandelbrod (the Eastern European version of biscotti), macaroons, and almond -- were unique delights, and perfect for nibbling with a cup of steaming Tazo tea, a specialty brand worthy of being served in an upscale restaurant.

Dressed in Marlins colors and aiming for the top, Fish isn't short on either ambition or talent. A little fine-tuning and this town just might have another champion on its hands.

Fish
18841 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura; 932-5022. Open daily for lunch from noon to 3:00 p.m. and for dinner from 5:00 p.m. to midnight. Sunday brunch from noon to 4:00 p.m.

Shrimp and lobster bisque
$7.00
Caesar salad with salmon "croutons"
$8.00
Pan-roasted sea bass
$18.00
Scallops with butternut squash gnocchi
$19.00
Cookie plate
$4.50

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