Waiting for a bite: Moonfish baits its hook with fresh possibilities and comes up with mostly winners, if time is not of the essence (photo: Gregg Matthews)
It isn't often that restaurants go to war over names. But in June, Ron Woodsby, whose company owns the Fishbones chain, took Bonefish Grill to court, claiming their similar name and logo of a fish skeleton was violating trademark and confusing customers.
Then he opens Moonfish, a mile down Sand Lake Road from Fishbones and across the street from his competitor. (A moonfish, by the way, is called "opah" in Hawaii.) And why use "bone" to name a fish spot anyway?
But a lot of thought and effort has gone into the design of the nonbony Moonfish, from the cast-metal opah on the front door to the magnificent art glass in the dining rooms. Everything revolves around fish. Hanging lights over the hectic bar look like little octopuses, and a giant tropical fish tank is echoed in video screens in the rest rooms. Walk around behind the sushi bar to see the catch of the day displayed next to the open kitchen -- clear eyes and bright, firm fish abound.
Don't plan on rushing through a meal at Moonfish; whether it's busy or quiet, things take a very long time. Our server gave new meaning to "wait staff," and the space between courses went way beyond luxurious and into interminable.
But while waiting for a table you can order immaculately prepared sushi like "dancing eel," which combines broiled eel, king crab and avocado, or the "yum-yum" roll of tuna, salmon and fried yellowtail (both $11.95). The expertise of their fish-buyer is evident in these jewels.
Portions are enormous, and when a dish hits the mark, it couldn't be better. A giant steamer full of Prince Edward Island mussels in garlic and white wine ($10.95) is worth the trip by itself. The open, citrus and oak-fired grill does wonderful things to the Oscar mignon, a thick sirloin filet topped with crab and Hollandaise (yes, good steak in a fish house; $20.95).
The "catch" menu changes daily, and lists not only the fish, but who caught it and where -- giving map coordinates. I didn't write down who caught my tilefish ($23.95) but it was a mild and moist one. The "chef's mixed grill," ($21.95) however, gets demerits for whoever picked our oily mahi-mahi and salmon, which were unimaginative choices from such an extensive variety. And serving overcooked shrimp scampi in such environs is practically criminal.
So Moonfish does occasionally miss the mark; still, in terms of the food overall, it turns out to be a lucky entry in the growing number of "concept" restaurants. No bones about it.
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1505 E. Colonial Dr.
Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 377-0400
Classified Phone: (407) 377-0415
Fax: (407) 377-0420
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