I must have walked by this restaurant a hundred times and never really considered going in before.
If you’re a Bostonian, you’ve probably seen it too. It’s inside one of the most popular shopping areas in the city: the Copley Place, probably the highest-end ritzy indoor shopping mall in the city of Boston.
It’s a little hidden, I guess. Turner Fisheries is actually part of the connected Westin, though it’s part of the hallway leading to Copley Place Mall, so it does’t really feel like a hotel restaurant.
I was surprised how pretty and airy the restaurant was. We walked down stairs to come upon this wide open view down to the bar. What fun lights!
There are lots of windows facing the bustle of Back Bay Boston right outside the tall windows. It’s fun for people watching, and I loved the bright, airy space.
The menu is split up into several sections: Soups (including their award winning chowder); Starters; Salads; Entrees; Turner’s Classics; and a variety of Raw Bar offerings. Unlike certain seafood restaurants where you just order simple grilled fish separately from the sides, here each entree is a complete package, typically accompanied by some sort of vegetable and starch.
We started with Turner’s “Hall of Fame” Clam Chowder ($8). which has been voted Boston’s best clam chowder by Boston Magazine. The chowder was indeed generously chunky – fully of thick clam pieces and potatoes. It was even topped with what looked like a hand-made oyster cracker (definitely the fanciest oyster cracker I have ever seen). The clam flavors were not particularly strong in the soup, but overall it was still pretty tasty.
The Seared Diver Scallops ($15) came with a brandy black mission fig reduction. The scallops were perfectly cooked – just barely seared the way I like it. Overall, I enjoyed the scallops, though I found the fig reduction to be a tad sweet for my tastes.
Jonah Crab and Avocado Salad was a new menu item and consisted of Jonah crab meat, chunks of avocado, watercress, jicama, and Granny Smith apples tossed in a champagne vinaigrette. Though the ingredients sounded promising, we were actually quite disappointed with this salad. Perhaps it was the very light dressing or the lack of seasoning – there wasn’t quite enough flavor to balance out the watercress leaves. Overall, the salad lacked flavor and came off tasting bland.
The Wild Striped Bass, on the other hand was really good. Bryan ordered it as his entree and he really enjoyed it. The skin was cooked to a gorgeous crisp while the meat remained soft, tender, and flaky. The fish was served with goat cheese, Anaheim pepper polenta, and haricot vert (French green beans).
The Peppered Ahi Tuna was fine – cooked properly with just the edge slightly seared. We actually liked the English pea puree on which it was served, and the truffled pomme frites were fun. I love potato strings, and these were mighty addictive.
For dessert, the chef actually offered to just bring us a sampling of various things they offered. The Mango Creme Brulee was simple yet fantastic. We didn’t expect to finish the whole thing (the chef even told us we didn’t have to), and yet we did. It was so good.
My second favorite dessert was the Boston Creme Pie, which was moist, creamy, and not too sweet at all. The Flourless Chocolate Cake is great for those who are gluten-free, and tastes pretty much like the classic dessert. The Semifreddo was fun – you can’t really go wrong with a cake topped with a semi-frozen whipped mixture of ice cream and whipped cream.
All in all, it was a nice meal. Everything is executed with expertise – clearly these guys know how to source and cook fish. The menu and flavors are not the most innovative in the world (it’s still more of a classic, “safe” seafood restaurant). However, I do appreciate the occasional “edge” to certain menu items, such as the goat cheese in the Wild Striped Bass or the English pea puree in the Ahi Tuna.
All in all, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a destination restaurant. However, if you’re in the Copley Square area and you’re looking for a nice place to eat a perfectly fine dinner, Turner Fisheries is a sound choice.
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