Lakeland: Fish City Grill

Exterior of Fish City Grill restaurant in Lakeland, FloridaMy wife and I recently headed out for another lunch at Lakeside Village in south Lakeland.  I had been in the mood for pub-style fish and chips with malted vinegar so we decided to have lunch at Fish City Grill.  Fish City Grill is a small chain.  Most of their locations are in Texas, but they currently have one Florida location, in Lakeland.

Interior of Fish City Grill restaurant in Lakeland, FloridaThe restaurant interior was spotless and looked brand new.  We sat inside but they do have outdoor seating.  We were the first customers of the day (not the first time that has happened!).  Our server seemed a little distracted when we arrived and,for no apparent reason, made a disparaging comment about solo diners.  We enjoyed the music selection, mostly rock from the 1950s and 1960s (think Sam Cooke), but the volume was a little too loud for us.

One thing I enjoyed about Fish City Grill – they use lighting in a way I don’t see at many restaurants.  The restaurant itself was not brightly lit (it was midday and there was plenty of natural light from the windows), but small, bright lights over the table made it easy to read the menu and enjoy the visual Hanalei Island IPA at Fish City Grill restaurant in Lakeland, Floridaappeal of the food (more on that shortly).  So we could enjoy mood lighting without struggling to read the menu.

I ordered a New England style clam chowder to start with.  Iced tea to drink for me and a Kona Hanalei Island IPA beer for my wife.  The beer order ended up being a bit time-consuming as the restaurant’s actual selection did not match their drink menu.  It didn’t even match what was written on their blackboard near the entrance.  Our server indicated they had recently changed their selections, but the blackboard should be easy to update immediately.

New England style clam chowder at Fish City Grill restaurant in Lakeland, FloridaHowever, the beer and the chowder were both delicious.  The chowder was creamy with plenty of clams and excellent flavor.  I had not had really good clam chowder in years – it reminded me of chowder I used to enjoy back in Monterey, California – so this was a wonderful surprise.  My wife said the beer was also quite good and an excellent combination with the seafood.

For our meal, I ordered exactly what I had been anticipating, fish and chips with malted vinegar.  My wife selected a “Pick Two” combo with oysters and shrimp that also came with fries.  Both of our meals came with 2 hush puppies, a nice bonus that we weren’t expecting.

Fish and chips at Fish City Grill restaurant in Lakeland, FloridaWe immediately liked the presentation of the food.  Everything was arranged nicely instead of just being thrown on a plate.  The fries were lightly seasoned waffle fries.

The flavor lived up to the presentation.  Everything was outstanding.  My fish, beer battered cod, was crispy on the outside but tender and flaky inside.  My meal came with a generous portion of tartar sauce, which was also quite good.  And the malted vinegar, while only the Kraft Heinz brand, was exactly what I wanted to flavor my fish.  My wife’s meal came with a good-sized amount of slaw that she especially appreciated because it was not drenched in mayonnaise.  The shrimp and oysters were fried but not greasy and the breading was flavorful without being overdone.

Oysters, shrimp, slaw, and waffle fries at Fish City Grill restaurant in Lakeland, FloridaThe service was our only disappointment.  Our server seemed distracted throughout the meal, we had to wait a little too long for our bill at the end, and the beer selection should have been easier.  It would not stop us from going back, we may have just been there on a bad day.  The food really impressed us, enough that we would still recommend Fish City Grill.  It’s not inexpensive – with tip our total came to almost $50.  But Fish City Grill was one of those places that encouraged us to notice details and the choices that restaurants make in terms of design, food preparation, and presentation.  And that’s a good thing.  Fish City Grill is in Lakeside Village in south Lakeland, located on the traffic circle near the center of the shopping center.  Check them out!

If we have inspired you to visit Fish City Grill, or if you have been there and want to share your experience, please comment below.  And if you have Polk County restaurant tips, we would love to hear them via our Contact Us page.  Thanks for stopping by and happy eating!

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