Chef Stephen Bennett (Martinis Above Fourth) is about to launch his own seafood-focused eatery in the neighborhood that he grew up in.
Scheduled to open next week, AJ's Fish Merchant pays homage to a now-closed, similarly-named restaurant with a three-decades-long history in East County. Though Bennett, who studied culinary arts at Johnson & Wales, intends to resurrect some of The Fish Merchant's classic dishes, including their captain's salad and traditional clam chowder, he will hinge the menu on fresh seafood and local purveyors, including Catalina Offshore Products and Sadie Rose Bakery.
There will be four to five fish options available in a sandwich, on a salad or as a plate with couscous; the chef also plans to have more composed dishes, from scallops provençale to shrimp and grits. Appetizers and sides will include hush puppies and fresh-cut fries.
The restaurant doesn't have its beer and wine license just yet, but when it does, AJ's will exclusively carry Ballast Point beer. Future plans also include an oyster and sushi bar and perhaps a food truck.
· AJ's Fish Merchant [Official Site]
· All Coming Attractions on Eater [~ESD~]
[Photo via Twitter]