Without a doubt, FishTag is one of our favourite restaurants in the entire city (and therefore the world, right New York?). The servers are all great and personable, the bartenders are mischievous in the best way possible, the management and chef Stan Matusevich go out of their way to be friendly, and the food is always fresh and inspired.
But the reason I keep going back is the Bacala & Skordalia Brandade “Melt”…
At a glance, it looks like a fancy bruschetta or maybe a really fancy open-faced tuna sandwich. However, after your first bite, it transcends whatever petty label you’ve affixed it and instead just becomes “one of the most delicious things ever.”
The flavours are so well-blended (literally, it turns out) and mingle so quickly that’s it’s almost hard to pinpoint exactly why it’s so delicious. Fortunately, I’ve had it enough times now that I can keep my brain working a few seconds longer to analyze just before it shuts down and says “blaglahlahhhh…so good in my mouth…”
First of all, Bacala is colloquially called “salt cod,” (although, it’s soaked over and over in water before it’s ready to be cooked, which removes most of the saltiness), and a blended mixture of salt cod and olive oil is called a “Brandade.” Secondly, a “Skordalia” is a traditional, thick, greek spread- consisting of pureed garlic with other lumpy things (potatoes, walnuts, etc). At FishTag, the Skordalia consists of smoked potatoes, garlic, yogurt, and shredded Kefaloteri cheese, which lends a smoky robustness like a cross between a Gruyere and a Pecorino. These two blends are then themselves blended with a finely pureed smoked eggplant and nestled betwixt seasoned oven-roasted tomatoes and perfectly toasted French bread.
So in essence, this Bacala & Skordalia Brandade “Melt” is a delicious blend of delicious blends, a king among kings, a “tasty paste,” where all the flavours “melt” into one another in a cascading deluge of delicious balance. It’s served around the clock at FishTag and it’s one of my favourite things I’ve ever eaten ever.
Also, you should drink the Pepino Que Pica (Taylor prefers the Bee Keeper, but she is wrong).