When I was growing up, Sunday breakfast meant bagels and lox. Belly lox is salty while Nova Scotia salmon was not. Philadelphia Brand cream cheese or Temptee whipped cream cheese was always in the fridge. Sometimes we enjoyed kippered salmon or smoked chubbies that were probably trout.
All Jewish delis offer a smoked fish platter for brunch. Iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, onion, tomatoes, and black olives formed the backdrop for the smoked fish. For the past few years, chefs have been smoking salmon, trout and bluefish. This is a fine thing.
Several weeks ago, I received a tweet from Fork. It included a photograph of the smoked fish platter for two ($75) available at Sunday brunch. I almost jumped through my computer screen.
Fork, under the ownership of Ellen Yin and Chef Eli Kulp, has been in business for more than 20 years. I have dined there many times and have never been disappointed.
We sat at a roomy table in the window and watched the comings and goings on Market Street. I sipped a bloody Mary ($10) that was prepared with tomato juice rather than a mix. It imparted the right touch of spice and Lea & Perrins.
The Italians are correct when they say “first you eat with your eyes.” The smoked fish platter for two looked like a beautiful cross between a Seder plate and a caviar service.
A large silver plate was lined with crisp endive leaves and bite-size pieces of radicchio. Thinly sliced smoked arctic char was nestled on the colorful vegetables. It tasted like the Nova of my childhood and was not one bit salty. The chefs at Fork make their own cream cheese. One small glass bowl contained the goodie topped with freshly grated horseradish, the other topped with bits of chopped chives. Cream cheese with chives is classic. I simply spread the cream cheese on the homemade bagels and added the fish. Fork has been baking bagels and a myriad of breads for years. One can buy them at High Street, the eatery’s sister restaurant next door.
Another small glass bowl contained smoked bluefish. I’ve tasted smoked bluefish on a few occasions, but Fork likes to add its own twist. The fish was done like a brandade. This classic from the south of France is always prepared with salt cod and is whipped into a delicious oblivion. Tasting smoked bluefish in this manner was heaven-sent. Pieces of in-house smoked trout were placed in another small glass bowl. Smoked trout is sometimes salty, but this marvelous version was not. These fishes were delicious on a bagel and slices of dense whole wheat bread. Chopped hard-cooked egg, sans mayonnaise, was a plus for the platter. Then I tasted the crispy capers. Capers are sometimes added to a smoked fish platter. But these tiny bits of goodness were crisp like the best potato chips you have ever enjoyed. I could enjoy them as a snack. But they added a different sort of crunch to the fish.
Yin was in the restaurant on this particular Sunday afternoon. I have known her forever since she opened Fork. She greeted us and wanted us to sample a few small oysters from Cape May along with a refreshing octopus salad. A small dish of American caviar kept company with the octopus. The bright orange eggs popped in my mouth. A winter salad of greens, kale and sweet orange segments was another dish Ellen wanted us to enjoy.
Fork has received national recognition. After a perfect Sunday brunch, it is not difficult to see why.
Four tips of the toque to Fork. ■
306 Market St.