Mister M and I showed up to Mystic Fish in Palm Harbor hungry. Really hungry. Good thing Mystic Fish has a huge menu with all sorts of choices—and contrary to what the name suggests, more than just seafood. Open since 2000, Mystic Fish has a reputation for serving up some of the best seafood values in Tampa Bay. After our weeknight dinner, it is clear that reputation is intact.
As mentioned, the menu is quite extensive at Mystic Fish, including hot and cold “small plates” ($7-$15) as well as about 20 entrees ($15-$41). We opted for the “more is more” attack on the menu and picked a selection of small plates in lieu of entrees.
What we loved: After taking in the eclectic sea-inspired decor, we started with a satisfying salad with apples and blue cheese tossed in a cabernet vinaigrette and a lobster bisque that was sweet, flavorful and not too heavy. We also ordered the crispy duck breast. The accompanying strawberries and salty soybeans played off the moist and perfectly-seared duck in an unexpected, yet pleasing way. The mussels with chorizo were also a hit. The large portion gave us the opportunity to enjoy the tender mussels and dip our bread in a spicy broth. The highlight of the meal was the fork-tender short ribs, slathered with a tart and sweet Asian-inspired BBQ sauce. Many places offer short ribs, but these were the best we have had in a long while.
What we would pass on: The ahi tuna tower fell short for us. Sushi grade tuna tartar was awkwardly layered between house-made wonton chips and mixed with sriracha oil. The oil was a distraction from the fresh tuna– maybe a creamy sriracha drizzle would have been more successful– and the jicima was downright bitter. Overall, the dish lacked zing.
Despite this road bump, we had an enjoyable meal because of the friendly service and the fact that we were able to try a ton of different things and not break the proverbial bank. The food at Mystic Fish is contemporary but not too fussy, good quality and reasonably priced. (The selections mentioned plus a crab martini, dessert and two cocktails cost $82.) The wine list is very reasonably-priced as the most expensive option is a $40 bottle of cabernet, with most of the wines in the $20 per bottle range.
Sunday through Thursday check out Mystic Fish’s special $16.75 menu where you can choose from seabass, shrimp scampi, filet mignon or yellowtail served with a salad, veggie and a starch, all inclusive. 3253 Tampa Road, Palm Harbor, FL 34684. Tel: (727) 771-1800.