While my SAFII co-horts were entertaining Evan Kleiman at our most recent Happy Hour event, I manned the bar, making friends with raffle winners and even my bartender's significant other. It was he (the boyfriend, not the bartender) who suggested a seafood joint just a hop, skip, and jump from home. After he was done swearing by its tastiness, I agreed to give it a go.
Hidden along Fourth Street, between the 55 and 5 on ramps, there's a quick strip of retail that holds a dental office, Subway, and 2 Fishermen. Their 30 seats are furnished with simple wood tables, cushioned chairs and sepia-toned photo wallpaper of, well, seafood. California Fish Grill followers may find the indoor-only space relaxing, except when the lunch-hour line makes a beeline to their self-serve fountain slightly inconvenient.
On my first visit, I learned that their printed menu (there isn't a website) didn't quite match what was being offered. The gyros, for instance, would be available
next this week. Now open for two months, I was miffed, but not deterred from ordering some of their other specialties. I requested their mahi mahi plate with brown rice and mint peanut slaw, accompanied by warm pita bread ($9.95).
Sauce and side options are aplenty, including a turmeric or miso garlic basil glaze. I opted for tarragon garlic butter with the hopes that more of the fish's true flavor would come through. It was cooked with a light hand, not overly grilled nor manhandled. The customer before me requested the fish and chips ($8.49), admitting he had them yesterday. If it was good enough for him, I'd be back.
And the next night we were, exploring the Japanese panko fryer items as well as their sushi roll selection. We began with a simple spider roll: it not only quelled our appetites before the main course, but the sheer magnitude of it required us to take some home. And before you question the rice-to-filling ratio, it was more than adequate with soft shell crab, smelt egg, crab meat and avocado. It automatically comes with miso and salad, making for no-nonsense take-out for those in a pinch.
To ask what fish they battered escaped me, as we were served a sizable plate of eats. Four golden strips maintained a denser outer texture than traditional pubs would offer, but it was becoming more apparent that this was a non-traditional seafood establishment. Fries were of a McDonalds cut and chew. My grilled vegetable option still possessed a good bite, and the cucumber salad was simply garnished with herbs and red onion. Burrito wraps, tacos, power bowls (their version of Flame Broiler) and green salads rounded out the remainder of the menu. They didn't upsell us for one of their listed gourmet desserts, nor did I see any displayed, so I assumed it was on par with their gyros.
For those of us who prefer the free water cup, they go the extra mile with a vessel stocked with ice, cucumber and lemon slices, but fizzy San Pellegrino Arancia, Limonata, Snapples and soda are also available. 2 Fishermen Grill & Rolls' focus may be seafood, but they are evidently trying to cater to a much broader clientele with additional offerings like hummus, lamb tacos, and Korean BBQ. Diversifying may be advisable in a stock portfolio, but that might not carry over into casual fishing holes–so stick with the seafood.
2 (Two) Fishermen Grill & Rolls is located at 2321 East Fourth, Suite G, Santa Ana; (714) 648-0055. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday.