Whole Roasted Fish at Trade, Plus Some Hits and Misses

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?

Trade on Urbanspoon

See my favorite dishes at this restaurant on Tasted Menu


27 Responses to “Whole Roasted Fish at Trade, Plus Some Hits and Misses”

  1. #
    Michelle posted January 25, 2012 at 9:25 am

    There is a dive Chinese restaurant near me that my family has been going to as long as I can remember. They make the most AMAZING whole roasted fish. You + me + whole roasted fish = a date? Soon? xo

  2. #
    Daisy posted January 25, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for you honest take on the variety of dishes offered at Trade. I still need to pay them a visit!!

  3. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted January 25, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Love seeing your photos after hearing about your visit to Trade last night! I’m impressed you tackled that whole fish . And, agreed, Oleana’s baked Alaska has ruined all other versions for me!

  4. #
    Tracey posted January 25, 2012 at 10:39 am

    great revew Bianca. I agree on Chocolate Bundino. I found the rosemary so overwhelming I couldnt eat the dessert never mind enjoy it. I am off to Trade again tonight and look forward to trying the fish. I will probably have them fillet it for me though. You are very brave.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Heehee Tracey, either very brave or very Asian ;) Have fun tonight!

  5. #
    Elizabeth posted January 25, 2012 at 10:54 am

    So many desserts! Those brussels sprouts and eggplant look fabulous.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Elizabeth, you will love that eggplant dish! It was actually on Boston.com’s Best Dishes for 2011!

  6. #
    dan posted January 25, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I like the whole fish at Orinoco. Also they usually have whole branzino at whole foods. So easy to just pop on the grill in the summertime :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Dan, I don’t have a grill :(

      See you later!

  7. #
    Erica @ In and Around Town posted January 25, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Whole roasted fish is always fun, but takes me forever to eat – all of those bones! But it is always so delicious – so worth it!

  8. #
    Heather posted January 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I’ve never eaten a whole fish, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it! Sounds like a cool dining experience. I used to love going to the local fish market with my Dad for fish and shrimp on Fridays during Lent. It was always fun to look at the whole fish in the glass.

  9. #
    Michelle Collins posted January 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    This looks like a great meal overall! And kudos to you for being brave enough to filet your own fish!

  10. #
    Megan posted January 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    I’ve never eaten a whole fish. Sounds like a good self-challenge! I don’t think anyone should even try to compete with Oleana’s Baked Alaska. It sounds like you had some really good dishes (even though there were some misses). I still need to go there!

  11. #
    Sacha posted January 25, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    I’m so happy to see your review of Trade because the reviews have been incredibly mixed. I love when a whole branzino is done right, and it looks delicious. And you’re right, NOTHING can beat Oleana’s Baked Alaska. I’m a little surprised to see a peach tart, though, in the middle of winter.

  12. #
    Joanne posted January 26, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I have never eaten NOR deboned a whole fish in my entire life! You make it sound…not SO difficult, though! I should give it a shot…

  13. #
    Lindsay @ biking before bed posted January 26, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I remember attempting to eat a whole fish I Greece right after I stopped eating vegetarian. I was so overwhelmed and ended up just hacking at it. To this day it was one of the best fish I have ever eaten. I can’t wIt to try Brussels and romesco sauce!

  14. #
    Meghan posted January 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

    This will be a helpful guide for my dinner at Trade in a few weeks!

  15. #
    Kim K posted January 26, 2012 at 10:28 am

    um can i join your and michelle’s whole fish date? i love love love whole roasted fish. if i ever see it on a menu, i order it….i think my favorite recently was at Fore Street in Portland. Delicious!

  16. #
    Molly Galler posted January 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    As a vegetarian, I don’t eat fish, but I love that you wanted the entire thing, bones and all! I’m sad you didn’t get to taste the avocado appetizer, which I thought was the best thing on the menu! Read my review here: http://popbopshop.blogspot.com/2011/11/dining-out-trade.html

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      Next time I will be sure to get the avocado appetizer!

  17. #
    MelissaNibbles posted January 27, 2012 at 6:23 am

    I’ve never eaten a whole fish. I love that you just went for it. The eggplant sounds delicious!

  18. #
    Danielle posted January 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Thanks for this post, it was quite timely. Just went last night to celebrate my birthday (yeah!) and it was wonderful having the hits and misses from your experience. One to try is the fried oysters over buckwheat waffle. OMG – so delish! For me, that was the highlight of the night. Thanks again for the post!!!!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted January 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Belated happy birthday, Danielle!!

  19. #
    glidingcalm posted January 31, 2012 at 12:57 am

    mmm ! my boy and I both looked at that and said OOO. Whole Roasted fish! I want that! I really love when Vietnamese restaurants do a whole fish like that with lots of ginger and garlic! it is amazingggggg

  20. #
    Taryn posted January 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try Trade, so thanks for the plate-by-plate review! I think it’s definitely worth checking out… it’s on my list!

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