Seafood in the Treasure Valley is kind of hit and miss, which results in a lot of imported, previously frozen fish on local menus. Now I love fish and chips and sushi as much as the next guy, but I love a good piece of simply prepared fish just as much. So, when I heard all the buzz about Lucky Fins, I put them on my to-do list. Not to overuse a phrase, but my experience was kind of hit and miss as well.
Location plays a big part in whether a business succeeds or not, and by that reasoning it would seem that a business would have to be pretty horrible to fail at the intersection of Fairview and Eagle in Meridian, but several specialty eateries there have disappeared or severely revamped their model (including ones I liked…Bull’s Head Pub, how I miss thee). Lucky Fins, a small chain based out of Greeley, CO, has fared well enough to justify a second Treasure Valley location in downtown Boise.
My mother and I decided to hit them up for happy hour one afternoon a few months back. I fell in love with the place the second I walked in, for the simple fact that all the giant windows meant it would be nearly impossible to take a bad picture in there. A waitress showed us to our seats, where we ordered a couple of beers and proceeded to examine the menu.
|See what I mean about the pictures?|
As I perused the selections, my excitement began to wane. Fish tacos. Crab cakes. Fish and chips. Deep fried fish, heavily sauced fish, fish covered in cheese or salsa. When the waitress came back, I asked her if there were any simple, straightforward options. Maybe something grilled or poached with just a little pepper and a squeeze of lemon perhaps. “Not really” was the answer. Maybe they have stuff like that as a special sometimes? I decided to order some oysters to perk me up while I kept looking at the menu.
|Oysters on the Half Shell|
Having visited Seattle not long prior, it was a bit of a shock to go from seeing a half dozen specific kinds of oyster on every menu to being back here where “oysters” pretty much covers it. Luckily, these were good. One or two had a small amount of grit to them, but otherwise they were fine and did soothe my fresh seafood craving a bit. When our waitress returned, Mom ordered the Fish and Chips, while I chose the Po’ Boy Select with soft shell crab.
|Fish and Chips|
I have to admit that the Fish (cod, in this case) and Chips was one of the better examples of the dish that I’ve had. Crispy, flaky, juicy, not too fishy, and just all-around good. The fries were delicious (the “smoky fries” taste like a french fry version of barbecue potato chips) but a little greasy, and even the cole slaw was decent. I’m used to having at least one of those components be disappointing, but this was happily not the case.
|Soft Shell Crab Po’ Boy Select|
My entree was a little less thrilling. If you Google “Po’ Boy”, you get back a lot of pictures of sandwiches, mostly seafood varieties, stuffed to overflowing. The things originated from Louisiana, for cryin’ out loud. They don’t half-ass their edibles there. Here we have a decent baguette with red onion, tomato, lettuce, and chipotle aioli. I don’t know what makes it “select”, since those are pretty much the standard po’ boy toppings. Maybe it’s the chipotle? Regular mayo is typical. Maybe it’s the protein? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of it, does there? Let’s take a look inside…
|Looks lonely, doesn’t he?|
One soft shell crab. A small one, not even big enough to cover the bun. There was two inches of meatless sandwich behind that little sucker. Compare it to the size of the french fry, and you’ll see I’m not exaggerating. Ten dollars for that. Maybe I’m not the only person who was unhappy with it, because I see that it’s no longer an option on their menu.
At the end of the day, the score card was: disappointing fresh fish options, unique and tasty french fries, really good fried fish, decent oysters, and a very sad sandwich. Lucky Fins occasionally does some interesting things (they have a weekly “Fat Tuesday” menu going right now), and one of those might draw me back, but I don’t see myself becoming a regular there.
Food: Solid flavors, maybe a little heavy on the seasoning in a few places. A-
Value: Varies by item. C+
Service: Friendly and attentive. A
Atmosphere: Casual and well-lit. Great for pictures. Hey, it matters to me! A
Final Grade: B