Third Floor Fish Cafe
205 Lake Street South Suite #300
Kirkland WA 98033
Fantastic Views and Good Food for a Great Date
By: Grant Chen
The Third Floor Fish Cafe has a name that is almost too simple to a fault. For it is really a fish cafe one could say and yes, it is indeed located on the third floor. To continue along this very direct naming convention, we should just as well name it the “Third Floor Fish Cafe With Great Views on Lake Washington From the Kirkland Lake Front with Tasty Fresh Seafood” as that is precisely what you’ll get here.
Open only for dinner from 5pm to close, our review was later into the evening and we arrived at the lot up 2nd Street that the restaurant uses for complimentary valet parking. The restaurant is only a mere block away, so this is a nice amenity for the oft crowded weekend evenings in Kirkland.
Taking an elevator to the third floor, our interest was piqued as to what we would behold as the elevator doors opened, given the rather unassuming name of a ‘fish cafe’. To our smiling surprise, we were greeted by a world of dark mahogany wood, classic architecture and beautifully lit glass piece that signaled we were in the right place. After having coats checked, we were then brought upon sweeping windows with view of Lake Washington from all the points from the restaurant. Immediately, it was clear that just on views alone the Third Floor Fish Cafe would be a great date spot.
Our seating was in a comfortable booth that was a tier above the window seating area, while half-circle booths behind us and window seating to the front. Each are designed to view out to the water, though we recommend the window seats for greater views and booths for a bit more intimacy.
Menu items are revolving here, as we were handed a menu sheet with the seasonal seafood available. Items included about a dozen seafood entrees such as salmon, halibut, scallops, prawns and tuna alongside a few non-seafood items as well. Most ranged in the high $20 to lower $30 range, so be prepared to spend a bit at the Fish Cafe. Appetizers were similar on the seafood side, with some fried calamari, grilled prawns, half shells and salads. The review teamed chose to order two classics dishes that included the Alaskan king salmon and Alaskan halibut, rare ahi tuna as appetizer and an apple cranberry crisp for dessert.
First to come was the seared ahi tuna appetizer, which had great presentation on top of a bed of cucumber salad and sprinkled with sesame seeds and ponzu mayonnaise. It was a delicious dish with the mingling of flavors between the tuna and ponzu, though the tuna does most of the work on its own. I would have hoped for a larger portion size however, due to the naturally thin slices of ahi.
On the entree dishes, the salmon was cooked well and appeared to rest on a bed of sweet couscous, topped with garnish. Meat was very tender and a strong salmon flavor and showcased a simple but well executed dish. The halibut fared pretty well, though it was a bit plain on seasoning and also had a strong lemon flavor to the sauce that might be much for some.
Our dessert, the apple cranberry crisp was a joy, coupled with a unique ginger, rum and raisin based ice cream. Worked wonderfully with the apple crisp and highly recommended.
Service at the Fish Cafe was good, though it wasn't above and beyond like one might hope for at a restaurant with $30 dinners. There were no superficial problems, as our orders were taken timely, checkups were made and water and plates were taken care of on time. That said, there was no extra effort on making recommendations or friendliness that one might expect from a higher quality restaurant. No points docked, but none added where a chance to might have been.
At the Fish Cafe, for the most part, you get what you pay for with the higher prices vs menu items and ambiance. In other words, it would be a good spot for dates and special occasions, but you would likely not make this your regular hangout save a good deal of disposable income.
Overall, the Third Floor Fish Cafe gets a good recommendation from Chef Seattle and as mentioned numerous times, would be a great spot for a date or night on the town. For the foodies out there, while the food is pretty good, you would be paying a premium for the other extras the restaurant offers.
The ahi tuna were very thin slices of tuna on top of a generous portion of lettuce. At $12, would have seriously hoped for more to this dish, but each of the four pieces were quite slim. The appetizer was good at least, with generous amounts of white and black sesame seeds adding to the seared edges of the tuna. The ponzu mayo was tart and smooth at the same time, accenting the delicious raw appeal of the ahi tuna.
Salmon was quite good as well, with a very rich fish oil taste to the salmon unique to the king salmon breed. Served with some green onion and red pepper garnish on top of a bed of what appeared to taste like sweet couscous, added a nice multi-texture to the dish. The sweetness of the couscous helped round out the palette of the dish, though I wasn’t a fan of the beets as I’m not particularly fond of beets to begin with.
Dessert was a very nice dish that was quite unique with a cranberry apple crisp topped ala mode with a ginger, rum and yellow raisin ice cream. The tartness of the cranberries mixed with the apple crisp and ginger ice cream delightfully, creating a myriad of flavors dancing across my tongue. Highly recommended and portioned just enough for two.
Service was pretty standard at Fish Cafe, with a few minor issues. The waitress immediately asked us for drinks after getting our menus and that is still a pet peeve of mine, if not minor. Dishes were changed regularly for appetizer and bread and water was refilled regularly. We were asked for desserts at the end of the meal, though no recommendations were given at any time. So, decent service but nothing above the ordinary.
The views of course are the first thing to notice at the Fish Cafe, which overlooks Lake Washington from a great vantage point in Kirkland. During the sunset, this would be a fabulous date spot when accompanied by a window seat. Otherwise, there is still a classic charm to the Fish Cafe, which is almost a throwback to a classic time of plentiful stained wood railings, walls and furniture mixed with raised, private semi-circle booths. The bar area is also very classy, with a beautifully crafted glass etching of the restaurant’s name as well as image.
Averaging about $30 per plate and $10 per appetizer, the Fish Cafe comes out to about $50 a person for an ordinary dinner. While the view is good and the ambiance is great, the price is still rather steep for what you get. The portions aren’t small, but they aren’t large either, but are significantly higher than you would pay elsewhere, so the ambiance is the premium. For special occasions, this would be great, but not for your daily or even weekly dining unless you are blessed with money.
The halibut was moist and it was a good portion. I wish it was seasoned a bit more with salt to counter a the softer note of halibut. The risotto was a good texture and cooked well. A little more lemon than I would like it, though more butter would possibly have toned the lemon down. Even still, the sauce that came with the dish did help with the flavor of the halibut and the risotto.
The seared ahi was perfect in moisture and it was not overcooked. Ahi tuna is supposed to be mostly raw. The ponzu mayo was a nice compliment with the greens.
Apple crisp was very good, served warm, while the crust was nice and crisp. It was not too sweet. The ice cream was a nice touch, but the flavor of the ice cream was not to my liking. I did not mind the raisin but the ginger mix was a little off to my taste preferences.
I thought that the waitress was helpful when I inquired about choices in white wine. She came around often and was very pleasant.
The ambiance was nice. It was dimly lit enough where it seemed semi private and the view of the water front was very nice. The seating arrangement was fairly comfortable.
Pricing is similar with other restaurants that are of this caliber, so the value was on par.
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