Foreword by Stan Lerner: so many readers have thanked me for turning them on to Rock ‘N Fish I’ve decided to put a banner up for the place and give this post one more run on the downtownster front page! If you haven’t tried Rock ‘N Fish yet–go there and see what I’m talking about. I’ll be back in LA on the 20th and you can guess where you’ll find me eating dinner…
Torn between readers who want stories about national topics and those who want to know what’s going on in the very happening Downtown LA always presents a conundrum for this writer. Balance being the key to most things in life and the fact that I’ve been desirous of writing about Rock ‘N Fish LA Live for a long time now—this one is for my people in my hometown The City of Angels. And for those readers abroad, you’re going to come to Los Angeles one day, so make a note: eat at Rock ‘N Fish LA live, you’re going to like it.
For the ultra faithful it could tickle your AEG bone that I’m writing about a dining establishment in the heart of LA Live given our stormy relationship, but this place is too good to throw out with the bathwater. And given that I’ve taken to eating at Rock ‘N Fish several days a week I wouldn’t want a Stan sighting to send the observer of such into shock. I should mention here that while most of the restaurants at LA Live are big corporate owned entities, Rock ‘N Fish is one of a chain of two, the original being a beach legend down in the South Bay.
So of all the restaurants in all of the places that I travel…It all started months ago when I ran into Eric / manager of Rock ‘N Fish…I’m leaving out the part about the hot publicist, but the story really begins with me sitting on the very nice patio, one of the best in Downtown, listening to some great rock ‘n roll, thus the name Rock ‘N Fish, and eating almost everything on the menu—not one thing that I wouldn’t order again. But before talking about the food I have to digress for a moment and say that Rock ‘N Fish LA Live is about more than food, Rock ‘N Fish LA Live is about community. All of LA Live combined has not made an effort equal to that of Rock ‘N Fish to be part of what’s going on Downtown and downtownster is all about supporting those that support us.
The food: Rock ‘N Fish much like another favorite restaurant of mine, Bottega Louie, delivers on three fronts. First, the food is good. Second, the food is a great value for what you get. Third, the atmosphere is excellent. And in the case of Rock ‘N Fish the serving sizes aren’t just adequate—they’re large!!! So far so good—here’s the twist that got me at hello, almost every dish prepared at Rock ‘N Fish is prepared over an oak grill. Not to be confused with some oak chips thrown over some lava rock—REAL OAK GRILL. This is almost impossible to find anywhere in the city let alone in an upscale restaurant. Why? Because it takes a lot of room to store wood by the cord and it takes even more work to keep it burning just right to cook on consistently. And then there is the added cost of ventilation to accommodate such an effort. Hats off for making this effort…
Back to Eric and the table full of food. Start with a Navy Grog, it’s the house drink. They have a huge bar, but when in the Navy drink what the Navy Grogs drink—or not, but I did. You must, must, must get the oak grilled artichoke; it is the best take on this dish anywhere, period. If you have room for another appetizer the spicy tuna roll is better than most sushi restaurants and although I have not tried the crispy calamari my friends have all told me that it rocks, pun intended. When contemplating your main course, the fish is all brought in fresh daily and again this is where the oak grilling really shines. I’ve never had a better ahi tuna—I recommend it rare and if you’re doing lunch the salmon sandwich has no rival anywhere in the city. If you prefer a lighter flakey fish the halibut is served both gilled and blackened…Blackened is always tempting, but again it’s a crime to do anything that diminishes the oak flavor, so grilled and rare. Sides, get the mac ‘n cheese and it’s a tossup between the sautéed spinach and grilled vegetables.
Mac ‘N Cheese moment. The mac ‘n cheese at Rock ‘N Fish is spiced up with some cayenne pepper, which rocks! I take mac seriously and only Pete’s Café and Nickel Diner can compete with this tasty concoction.
Note: for land-lubbers Rock ‘N Fish has a serious selection of meat—don’t be fooled by the name of the place. I famously don’t eat meat, but like the calamari, my friends more than vouch for it.
And then there is fish ‘n chips. In a previous hunt for some good fish ‘n chips I derided the poor excuse for such a delicacy served up at both Chaya and Fleming’s. The only slack I cut these two restaurants was that high expectations were not merited given neither establishment claimed fish as a specialty. Well how about a fish restaurant that specializes in oak grilling fish? It turns out Rock ‘N Fish can bring home the fish and fry it up too. I wouldn’t suggest this dish on the first visit as it’s not a signature, but when the need for some good old comfort food is strong—place your order and enjoy!
It’s been a while since I went to town on a local restaurant review, and although this one put a few pound on me, I’m glad that I did. Rock ‘N Fish delivers atmosphere, good food, generous portions and reasonable price, which really makes it a great dining experience. I’m also of the opinion that the bar area is a sleeper, capable of becoming one of the better spots to hang out in Downtown. I’ve noticed people filling the bar area for some Sunday Football, the Bar Crawl stopped there last month, and Sarah Maxwell (marketing maven) seems to be having some kind of event there every week or so—I’m feeling it. In fact I think I’ll throw a little party there myself, maybe for the American Film Market in November, I’ll keep you posted.
Rock ‘N Fish LA Live is located at 800 West Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles 90015