One day last week I took the opportunity to try a local restaurant I’d heard about a while ago but never gone to.
I hadn’t been before because it’s a fish restaurant and my husband, while possessing many fine qualities, is not a big fan of fish. Not that my four-year-old is either, but I thought she woudn’t object to fries for lunch, so one weekday after nursery school let out I took her to Fishnet in College Park.
This hidden gem of a restaurant is not in the main “downtown” section of College Park – it’s tucked away in Berwyn, so you have to know where you’re going. Coming up Route 1 away from the University campus and heading towards IKEA, you turn right onto Berwyn Road (two blocks before the intersection with Greenbelt Road) and follow that until you see the restaurant on your left. One advantage of this tucked-away location is that parking is plentiful and free.
Fishnet is one of those places that sits nicely at the crossroads (metaphorical crossroads, I mean; I’m done with directions now) of casual and a little bit fancy. It’s not a chain, which immediately sets it apart from most of the places you can eat in the College Park/Greenbelt locale. The menu is on a blackboard and you order at the counter, but your food is brought to your table. I’m not sure who clears the plates: I tried to clear ours away and the employee hovered embarassedly as if this was his job. But I figure it’s never wrong to be tidy, right?
The menu is simple but covers all the bases: the signature item is a Turkish-style fish sandwich whatever way you want it. You choose the fish and decide whether it’s grilled or fried, pick your bread, select a sauce, and sit back and wait. If that sounds like too much thinking you can do what I did and order the fish tacos: they arrived as delicious, crispy chunks (let’s say goujons) of pink salmon in breadcrumbs, with a tasty sauce and coleslaw all wrapped in a tortilla, times two. Beautifully presented along with a generous cup of crispy and golden french fries for my companion to share, this was a hearty lunch. (The fries are seasoned with pepper; Mabel didn’t mind brushing the big black spots off before dunking them in ketchup, but I know if I’d brought her pickier brother there would have been trouble. I don’t know if one can ask for unseasoned fries.)
To keep everyone happy, the menu also offers a half-pound beefburger, a vegan falafel sandwich, grilled cheese and tomato, lobster, fish sticks, soup, and salad. There’s also a Sunday brunch menu.
The prices are higher than you’d pay for a fish taco or a fish sandwich at a fast-food restaurant, but this is not a one-size-fits-all, find-one-in-every-town, treat ‘em and street ‘em fast-food restaurant. I was happy to pay a little more for really good food in a locally owned business that I’d hate to see fail. (And I don’t think it’s failing, judging by the good reviews showcased on the walls and the website.)
Along with my taco, I drank real Mexican Coke, and Mabel had an apple juice. There’s no alcohol on the menu here, but there was a fairly eclectic mix of appealing drinks in the fridge. The restaurant was bright and welcoming, spotlessly clean, and the staff were very friendly in spite of my slightly over-loud four-year-old. I think I’ll be bringing the rest of the family and sampling a fish sandwich just as soon as I can get us back there.
Fishnet restaurant is at 5010 Berwyn Road, College Park, MD. You can see the full menu at the website and also check out the Facebook page and Twitter feed (@Eat_Fishnet) for day-to-day information about what’s on offer. They’re closed on Mondays but open from 11:30am to 9:30pm Tuesday to Saturday, with Sunday brunch from 11:30 to 4:00.
When she’s not brushing the seasoning off french fries for her overly picky eaters, Christine is blogging about it at Awfully Chipper. She paid in full for her meal at Fishnet and was not compensated in any way for the review. Photos are her own.