reviews of tacos!

Maggie Bluffs Marina Grill

Seattle WA (Magnolia)

2601 w marina pl, seattle WA 98199
mon-thurs 11am-8pm, fri 11am-9pm, sat 9am-9pm, sun 9am-8pm

Maggie Bluffs Marina Grill (Seattle WA) - taco review

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Rating: 83
Price: $$$$

Like most restaurants accompanying marinas in the Seattle area, Maggie Bluffs is a an upscale, all-purpose restaurant specializing in fish-based foods with ample outdoor seating. In the midst of a bike ride with my business associates Mom and Dad, we stopped here for a lunch on a sunny, early September day. According to lore, Maggie Bluffs is the 'lunch casual' offshoot of a quite fancy (and purportedly underwhelming) restaurant known as Palisade. On this particular Sunday afternoon, Maggie Bluffs had a fair amount of traffic (mutely from cyclists and walkers) on their outdoor patio, but there were still a couple tables open for us. In my mind, this is probably a restaurant's ideal level of business, in which there is consistently exactly one table open for new patrons, while the rest are in varying states of consumption - nobody gets turned away or has to wait, but the dollar bills are still rolling in rapidly enough.

Looking through the menu, I noticed amongst the fish options a few taco choices - steak, ahi, or 'Crispy Fried Alaskan True Cod' (CFATC). Having spent some time reading up on cod, I'm guessing that their 'True Cod' is a slight to other restaurant who are serving (theoretically inferior) cod substitutes such as haddock. While Hawaii was probably only a bit further away than Alaska from where we were sitting, the Alaskan fish somehow felt more appropriate than ahi; I placed an order for the CFATC tacos, accompanied by a vanilla milkshake. My business associates chose a dish of onion rings and a salad covered in chili, respectively, demonstrating the breadth of Maggie Bluffs' marina-themed offerings.

After a brief wait, the tacos came out. The CFATC hunks were sizable and quite evidently fried and took up a respectable (though not ostentatious) portion of the white flour tortilla. The layer of breading was at least 3 mm thick, and once pierced the CFATC broke apart quite easily. Topping the CFATC was creole remoulade (which had a taste and role akin to tartar sauce), napa cabbage slaw (AKA sliced cabbage with light [I believe] vinegar), and shredded jack cheese (elongate white hunks of a aged dairy product). On the side was a lime slice and a dish of what Maggie referred to as 'pico de gallo'.

The pico de gallo was an interesting hybrid of traditional salsa and traditional pico de gallo. It had a strong tomato-y flavor, as one would expect from pico de gallo; however, unlike most pico de gallos I've had over the years, the hunks of fruits and veggies were pureed to a salsa-like consistency. It soon became apparent that my mental perception of the food was key to enjoyment. Due to the texture, I was initially disappointed by the lack of spiciness (which was a complete lack). Upon mentally recontextualizing it as a pico de gallo, however, I actually started to appreciate their puree. It poured easily over the tops of my three CFATC tacos evenly, and didn't have that layer of water along the bottom like a traditional pico de gallo.

The CFATC taco as a whole, like many other fish tacos, prided itself on mildness. The full disclosure here is that, despite my immense enjoyment of Rockaway Taco and Snack Dragon, I'm not a fish fan in general. However, breading and frying can make just about anything taste good, and this breading worked well. Unlike the often light and fluffy breading found on fried fish, Maggie's CFATC was true to its name in crispiness. The thick layer of breading provided a satisfying crunch for the teeth, though it did somewhat dominate the flavor of the cod.

When compared to the obvious alternatives, we can see that Maggie's intent was clear:
-Flour tortilla (milder than corn tortilla)
-Fish (milder than meat, especially spiced/marinated meat)
-Creole remoulade (milder than something; I'm not sure what to compare this to. Milder than salsa?)
-Cabbage (milder than cilantro and onions)
-Jack cheese (milder than cotija or queso fresco)
-Pico de gallo (by definition, milder than all salsas)
The entirety of the CFATC taco seemed designed for a smooth, mild flavor, just like my vanilla milkshake. While this strategy provided a pleasant meal and earned Maggie Bluffs a solid, respectable score, it also makes it impossible for the CFATC taco to stand out from the background smog of tacos constantly engulfing one's taste buds. Maggie appears to be aiming for a bit more creativity with their steak taco (including pineapple soy marinade), which I shall have to try upon my next bicycle trip through Myrtle Edwards.

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