I know my Central Coast of California fish. I know the difference between "local sea bass" and black cod. These are two species of fish regularly found at local fish markets--usually right off the fishing boat. For the record, local fish is the foundation of my diet.
So when my husband and I decided on the Monterey Fish House for lunch, and read 'Local Sea Bass" on the menu (at a very pricey fee), he ordered it because it is one of our favorites. For those who don't know about this variety of sea bass, it is NOT Chilean Sea Bass (Patagonia Toothfish). It is bright white, flaky, and mild when cooked--much like halibut.
What arrived at our table was a dark colored, oily, and had to be cut with a steak-knife fish. This was so not local sea bass!! My bet is it was black cod--not my favorite kind of cod.
For the first time in nearly 30 years of dining out together, my husband declined his meal and sent his plate back after both of us cut into his fish and agreed, "This is not sea bass."
The server and GM were gracious and replaced his dish with another fish (which was ok, not fabulous).
This is the second time (from a different restaurant) that what was ordered was not what was served. It may not be the fault of the chef, the server, or whomever. The fact is, according to Oceana, one in three fish sold/served is mislabeled. In our case, we were served a relatively inexpensive cod mislabeled as a very expensive sea bass. I was shocked that this happened at a fish house that overlooks Monterey Bay in California.
Since this fish house is packed with customers, many out of area tourists, the likelihood is that most folks do not know the difference. This time, however, a couple of locals who do know the difference called it.
My recommendation--order the fish and chips.
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