Review: Deep Blue Seafood sauces and fun menu options worth the trip
Fargo is about 1,400 miles from the nearest ocean and another thousand miles will take you to where Deep Blue Seafood gets the cod for its fish and chips.
This is no small challenge, and to turn fish market fodder — already a challenge to get — into a menu is yet another step that locally grown, locally sourced restaurants don't have to deal with.
For the most part, the seafood market does this well, overcoming the challenges presented by dishes requiring freshness above else.
But Deep Blue Seafood falls down on details that may or may not seem inconsequential at lunch time.
First, the fish in both the fingers from the children's menu, and the fish that accompany the chips in Deep Blue's Reel Deal are pieces of Alaskan cod cut carefully and cooked just to the flaking point leaving it moist, a little beyond translucent, with not a hint of the fillet flavor lost.
The children's fish fingers ($6.99) are cut from the same fillet as the battered cod used in the Reel Deal fish and chips ($11.99).
That said, the fish fingers, lightly breaded and mildly spiced, fare better than the more heavily battered chunk that goes with the fish and chips. Battered cod is heavy to begin with, and the thicker the batter, the greater the steam and the softer the coating as it sits in the basket.
The large-cut fries compensate somewhat. Light brown and more potato than fat, they are a more adult version of what kids will find in their basket.
A better option as far as side dishes are concerned is the red rice. It's mild, loose, light and doesn't add heaviness to an otherwise deep fried meal.
Unique items like alligator bites and frogs legs ($12 as a basket) add some variety and spice to a visit to Deep Blue, but to avoid a parade of fried foods, opt for the salmon sandwich (either as a burger or smoked).
And the crab bisque ($5.99) is pleasant tasting, but somewhat thin and a little short of the chunks of crab that could set it apart from the distant cousin served at franchise restaurants in town.
The relatively narrow menu can still offer some considerable variety.
Here's where Deep Blue shines. Its sauces, the tartar and the Louisiana version of remoulade are outstanding — a bright and cool accompaniment to just about anything on the menu.
Apart from the careful attention to preparing fish well, Deep Blue Seafood may be the only place in town that can regularly serve you oysters on the half shell ($2 each). Coming from the Gulf Coast of Florida, they are clean and free of fishy flavors and off textures you might expect oysters from 1,500 miles away.
The question of value is up the patron of any restaurant. It's not cheap but neither is Alaskan wild-caught cod or shipping fish fast to retain freshness all the way to your basket.
Having a mid-priced sea food option in Fargo, or any option at all for that matter, makes Deep Blue worth a trip.
The sauces and fun menu options give two more reasons to make the trip.
Deep Blue Seafood
Address: 4480 23rd Avenue South Fargo
Food: 2.5 stars
Service: 3 stars
Ambiance: 2.5 stars
Hours: Monday to Friday 11a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Phone: (701) 566-8776
Reservations accepted: No
Credit cards accepted: Yes
Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.