Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hold Off On Rumfish Grille (For Now)

Tucked in the far left corner of Bridgeville's Great Southern Shopping Center is a work in progress, Rumfish Grille (1155 Washington Pike, 15017). With four seasoned diners on my side, we attempted to get the full Rumfish Grille experience last night for a late dinner, and despite our favorable reviews of the decor, the meal and the service were underwhelming. As the rest of this review will explain, Rumfish Grille is consistently inconsistent.

Upon entering Rumfish Grille, one cannot help but notice the careful attention to detail. There is an abundance of bar seating around the actual bar, around the raw bar, and around the open kitchen. In addition, there are low top tables and large booths, both standard and rounded. This large amount of seating is critical as Rumfish doesn't take reservations. There is a combination of both natural light (which will open up to the outdoor patio that's under construction) and electric light that comes from four different kinds of fixtures that coordinate tastefully (I love the table top lamps on the actual bar and the strung old-fashioned light bulbs across the dining area). Along with bamboo, the interior is a blend of horizontal lines in a variety of textures... stone, wood, and fabric that mesh to create a welcoming and unique atmosphere, especially for the suburbs.
Bamboo accents that add style without clich√©
The view from the back of our booth: the actual bar and raw bar
The view from the front of our booth: the open kitchen and more bar seating
Needless to say, the decor of Rumfish Grille elevated our expectations, which were already high from looking at their online menu earlier in the day. Between the five of us, we started with Octopus ($12, potato, red onion, smoked paprika, arugula and aioli), two orders of Steamed Mussels ($8 each, a basil wine broth and a green curry-coconut broth, grilled bread slice), and Lobster Bisque ($8, sherry cream). The Octopus was undercooked in its thickest part of the tentacle, the aioli was bland, and the red onion dominated the potato salad garnish. Only the thinnest tip of the tentacle achieved the perfect of exterior crispness and internal warmth that I've come to prefer when eating this particular seafood. As for the mussels, we all liked both broths, but enjoyed the basil wine option more. The portions were plentiful, and quite nice for sharing. The Lobster Bisque was loaded with lobster, and the sherry cream added a nice layer. Although a bit pricey for an individual appetizer, this soup was worth every penny.
Steamed Mussels
Lobster Bisque
For our entrees, one choose the Chef's Feature, Rumfish Stew ($20, lobster-saffron broth, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, fresh fish), while the others opted for the "create your own" experience in which the diner chooses a protein, a vegetable, a starch, and a sauce. Here are the combinations ($19 each) that we ordered:
  • Tuna, Green Beans, Risotto, Ponzu sauce 
  • Tuna, Grilled Corn, Risotto, Ponzu sauce 
  • Sea Bass, Grilled Corn, Risotto, Ponzu sauce 
  • Hanger, Grilled Corn, Mac 'n Cheese, Red Pepper Cream Sauce 
The Rumfish Stew was tasty and very large, and we would recommend it for sharing rather than as an individual entree (unless of course you have an insatiable appetite). The Tuna and Sea Bass were prepared nicely, albeit the sauce selections came on the side rather than on the protein. Unfortunately, the Hanger wasn't the desired medium, and was closer to "Pittsburgh rare" than anything, so much so that the beef juices nearly spoiled the Grilled Corn on the plate. Speaking of vegetables, the Grilled Corn was done well, as were the Green Beans. As for the starches, the Risotto was bland and needed a dose of spice; while the Mac 'n Cheese pasta had both a nice texture and pleasing light, cheesy flavor. The Ponzu sauce isn't detailed on the menu, but our waitress described it as a "fruity teriyaki," which was accurate. This sauce is our recommendation if ordering fish from the "create your own" portion of the menu. The Red Pepper Cream Sauce sufficed on the Hanger.
Mac 'n Cheese
When it came to service, this might be where the biggest inconsistencies were the most evident. The staff was friendly and kind; yet, we waited for significant amounts of time to order, to receive orders, and for our checks. For instance, we waited for ten minutes to be served our initial waters, and our cocktails ($8.5) took even longer, only to be inaccurate. That was disappointing. Also, the food runners were not synchronized with our waitress. For instance, the Lobster Bisque was delivered without a spoon and we had to ask the cooks from the open kitchen to find us one, which wouldn't have been too problematic if we hadn't had to ask for silverware again once the appetizers came. All of this can be fixed with time and practice.

Lastly, it must be noted that Rumfish Grille clearly has good intentions of bringing fresh fish and a fresh vibe to the South Hills. Despite the inconsistencies in overall quality of dining and service, I look forward to their improvements once the dust settles.

(2.5 stars, 2.5/4)

Rumfish Grille on Urbanspoon