Fishnet ain’t fancy.
From the menu items to the plain pieces of paper they’re printed on, to the fishnet and seashell décor, the one obvious quality of the new seafood joint in Berwyn is simplicity.
And that’s the way owner Ferhat Yalcin likes it. He said he learned that as the general manager at the fine dining restaurant, Corduroy in Washington, where he worked with Chef Tom Power.
“His cooking is very simple. He uses five, six, seven ingredients,” Yalcin said. “His idea is let the food speak for itself.”
The menu at Fishnet isn’t tricky. Step one: Pick a fish, grilled or fried: mahi mahi, wild salmon, blue fish, hake or calamari. Step two: Pick a sauce: lemon saffron aioli, spicy red aioli or classic tartar sauce. It’s served on a ciabatta roll, with lettuce and tomato, and a homemade side if you’d like.
The salmon was light and moist and grilled just right. The calamari was delightful, though I haven’t had much calamari in my life so I don’t have much to compare it to.
Each of the sauces was good. The lemon saffron aioli was light and fresh, a good match for the salmon. The spicy red aioli had the right amount of kick, and the classic tartar was pretty good, which is saying something because I don’t normally like tartar sauce.
The fries — oh the fries. I knew they were special once I downed the whole cup full. They were salty and flavorful, with a nice combination of softness and crunch.
The russet potatoes from Idaho are cut fresh each day, then soaked in a salt, water and vinegar mix for several hours, Yalcin said.
My only complaint is the bread. Ciabatta is the only option, which I always find to be dry. The sauce and tomato, and the juices of the fish helped to combat it, but still, I would have liked something a bit moister.
Yalcin said he settled on the bread, because he couldn’t find something similar to the bread of his home country, Turkey.
“[Ciabatta] holds the sauces. It’s got a nice crunch to it,” he said, and added that it’s vegan bread.
Hanging on the walls are photos of ships docked in Istanbul.
While living in Turkey, Yalcin used to visit ships like those, where fishermen grilled mackerel right on board. It's from this experience that Yalcin created his Fishnet.
But there’s no mackerel on the menu.
That’s because he hasn’t found any place that offers fresh mackerel, he said, but he’s still looking.
Soon, he also hopes to replace the classic mayonnaise-based tartar sauce with a Turkish tartar sauce with walnuts.
Local Ingredients, Fresh Fish
Yalcin gets his vegetables from Maryland farms, except for when they’re out of season.
“I am trying to get as much as I can locally, but at the same time, I don’t want to sacrifice quality,” he said, noting that right now his tomatoes and lemons come from outside the state.
He gets fish shipped every two or three days from a market in Jessup, fresh enough that it’s never frozen, he said.
“If they catch it in Alaska Monday, I get it here Wednesday,” Yalcin said.
It’s not a particularly cheap meal, but reasonable for the quality.
The fish sandwiches range from $9 (calamari) to $12 (mahi mahi). Signature items — lobster roll and prime beef burger — are also on the menu for $15 and $10, respectively. Sides (fries, coleslaw and potato salad) are $2.50 each.
“I could do much lower prices here, if I did frozen fish,” Yalcin said.
Will I Go Back?
Absolutely. Not only was the food enjoyable, but the atmosphere of the former Berwyn Café location at 5010 Berwyn Road is slightly off the beaten road and quaint. Quaintness always wins me over. And so does good salmon.