I’m just going to say it straight: the only reason why I wanted to eat at Trade was so I could try the whole roasted fish.
I mean, yeah, of course I wanted to check out one of Boston’s newer restaurants. And yeah, I wanted to find out if Jody Adams pulls off the same elegant, clean taste of her dishes at Rialto. And fine, yeah, I wanted to be seen at one of the hottest spots in town.
Actually scratch that. I was sucking on some fish bones, so I did not really want to be seen by so many people.
Anyway, so this whole roasted fish, I think it was a branzino.
You can order it already filleted, but I wanted to do the work myself. The last time I ate a whole fish at a “fancy” restaurant was many years ago at the now-closed Rocca, but otherwise my friends and I always order whole roasted or fried fishes at Chinese restaurants (my favorite is the pan fried gray sole at Victoria Seafood Restaurant in Allston).
And whenever I go home to the Philippines, a whole roasted fish is pretty much normal at our dinner table. My mom taught me how to de-bone a whole cooked fish when I was very young, probably eight or ten. Everyone has different way of doing it: Martha Stewart has a tutorial on how to eat a whole fish, but I don’t like her technique because it requires flipping the fish and that could create a mess. I much prefer removing the dorsal fins first, eating the top fillet, removing the spine, then eating the bottom fillet (similar to this tutorial).
So the whole roasted fish at Trade? I really liked it. The skin was nice and crispy, and the fish was flaky and clean-tasting. It came with crispy cumin potatoes and was topped with a pesto. I would definitely consider ordering it again, even for just those little baby potatoes. I tried a bunch of other items from the Trade menu too (my friends and I shared several dishes), and some of them were hits, some were misses…
Pomegranate glazed eggplant with capers, olives and pine nuts = hit. There were a lot of components in this dish but everything worked together really well. (Top Chef talk, I know.)
Ricotta salata flatbread = hit. Just look at those shards of ricotta salata on top of the golden chewy crust! Big hit.
Whole globe artichoke with aioli = miss. Unfortunately while this looked beautiful, my friends and I did not like it. The artichoke was a little thin so there wasn’t enough flesh to scrape off, and the aioli was bland.
Brussels sprouts with romesco sauce = hit. I am glad to find yet another way to dress up brussels sprouts (my latest discovery was buffalo sauce). The romesco sauce had just the right amount of spice, and I am thinking of re-creating it at home soon.
Peach tart = hit. I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this dish because I usually don’t care too much for peach in desserts. I do care much for caramel though. And sweet, flaky crusts. This reminds me of the summer crostata at Rialto, which was similarly rustic and refined at the same time.
Baked Alaska = miss. This is not Trade’s fault. This is Oleana‘s fault. Because after eating the phenomenal baked alaska there, I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with a baked alaska elsewhere…
Chocolate bundino with rosemary, olive oil, and sea salt = miss. I had high hopes for this one. I tried rosemary-chocolate tartlets at The Chocolate Tarte and really liked it, and had a dark chocolate bundino at Towne and really, really liked it. So I thought I would love Trade’s version, but I did not. It was almost a too oily for me, and the rosemary flavor was very strong.
Panna cotta = hit. A nice way to end on a good note (actually, ending a meal with panna cotta is always a good note). This was silky-smooth and lightly sweetened.
And of course, my favorite of the evening: whole roasted fish = HIT! The fish was fragrant and flavorful from the lemongrass and ginger chutney, finished nicely with a bright-tasting pesto of mint, cilantro, and basil. It satisfied my craving for seafood, as well as my nose to tail penchant.
Have you ever de-boned a whole fish?