The principle of cooking deep-fried crumbed or battered fish is such a simple one that it boggles the mind why it’s done so badly both at home and even at the nicest restaurants. The fish is either overseasoned or underseasoned; soggier than wet paper; burnt to a crisp – definitely not palatable.
But, when it’s done right, it can be sheer delight: a crispy exterior encasing a meltingly soft and almost creamy interior that doesn’t taste too fishy because it’s been seasoned properly. Plus points if it comes with a proper batch of deep-fried spuds or, perhaps, a salad dressed impeccably with a citrusy sauce.
That said, the panko-crusted cobbler over at Melo’s (yes, the steakhouse; you can get lovely fish at a steakhouse!) is a paragon that others would do well to imitate. Each piece is properly crumbed, seasoned, and deep-fried into the crispy outside / tender inside ideal. But what sets this one apart from the competition is the smattering of sauce that gets drizzled over it: a garlic, chili, and lemon-infused clarified butter whose taste infuses each and every piece – spicy, sharp, lightly salty. The steamed veg and the small portion of potato Parmigiana seem almost unnecessary; yes, the fish is that good.