Up to now, my benchmark for Good Fish has been a little seafood restaurant in Zandfort am Zee in the Netherlands. I ate there every other day for two weeks... BUT, it may just get dropped down to second place by Shark's Seafood Bar in Newport, Oregon.
Shark's is a little place at one end of those all-too-common tourist rows you find in beach towns. Hidden in a little store front; past the fancy galleries, past the tacky t-shirt shops; past greasy-food-and-who-knows-what "family" dives... I'd have missed it if not for the recommendation of one of the guides at the local science center.
Even though it was a Saturday night, we lucked out as it was early, and a couple was just leaving. We also lucked out and were seated at the back counter, right in front of the steamers...right in front of the cook! Those steamers are AMAZING.
Imagine a 1-quart stainless steel helmet flipped upside down, suspended between two pipes, with a lever to tilt the pot on it's side, and you have a pretty good idea of the cooker. The original came from a submarine's galley. The cook (I really do have a hard time calling the artist behind the counter a "chef". He's a cook, a solid, no-nonsense, gets it spot-on each time COOK. Chefs wear fancy hats; a cook wears a killer Hawaiian shirt and a cap! But I digress...) adds broth to the pot, a BIG dollop of butter, seasonings (magic!), and whatever fish you are up for. A turn of the valve, and steam courses through the pot. A couple of minutes later, your treat is plopped onto your plate and vegetables are added to the broth. A short steam later (a PERFECT short time), the vegetables are nestled next to your fish. A green salad finishes up the presentation. I had sturgeon, a fish I'd never tried before. It was perfect... firm yet creamy. The seasoning was just enough for you to know it was there without overshadowing the fish.
My girlfriend had the New York seafood hot pot (the exact name of the dish escapes me...) It was a mix of fish and shellfish in a fantastic broth. Perfect. Perfect enough that she Did Not Share. The couple next to us had seafood in a red sauce over noodles. They were both smiling. The menu covers a lot of aquatic ground...I could have spent a good week trying things without repeating. And, this is a place with a conscience. Despite the name, sharks aren’t on the menu at Shark’s. In fact, if any fish is in danger of being over-fished it isn’t on the menu.
One final recommendation: Try for the counter in the back when you go. The conversations we had with the cook as he and his staff performed their ballet of preparation at the steamers is as entertaining as the food is scrumptious.