Fisch Kitchen has been a summer hit since opening just over a month ago in Margate by a couple with formal degrees in philosophy.
MARGATE — It happens every summer, without fail.
Like tropical storms, greenhead flies and Sunday night Parkway traffic, an upstart BYOB emerges, capturing the fickle fancy of dining cognescenti.
This season, that eatery appears to be Margate’s Fisch Kitchen, located in space previously housing the ice cream parlor operation of longtime island mainstay Downbeach Deli.
Fisch, in case you were wondering, is simply the German language word for that most indigenous seashore foodstuff. It’s also a play on the shared ethnic heritage of co-owners Paul and Lauren (nee Hammerschlag) Erbacher.
Erbacher, largely responsible for the food side of the business — “the product” — was born in California but spent much of his early life in Germany. Lauren, daughter of Downbeach founders Rob and Marcy Hammerschlag, takes on all service aspects, and according to her husband “handles the books.” But there is much more to this dynamic young couple than just those facile descriptions.
Like the fact that they catered their very own wedding reception, on-site here three years ago this October. That mutual attention to detail becomes even more evident on a sun-soaked late July morning, watching them prepping for a busy night ahead alongside staffers. Paul, assisted by cook Ethan Rubin, vigorously rolled out puffy rounds of fresh dough eventually destined to become grilled focaccia.
Once finished with that task, the duo rapidly moved on to cutting, weighing and portioning another, smaller house-made bread product, lobster rolls, for use the following day.
A painstaking desire to create everything themselves, from scratch ingredients, seems to be a hallmark of this new business. Alluding to that fact, Erbacher says, “We definitely don’t believe in the status quo. I’m a very deconstructed cook.”
Erbacher, along with fellow Fisch Kitchen employee Marino Rodriguez Navarrette, were also both veterans of Margate’s superb Dune.
This enterprise, however, appears more singularly focused, reflecting Paul’s desire to “Keep it simple. We want people to eat.”
Glancing at Fisch Kitchen’s menus online — updated daily, based on market availability — serves to reiterate those thoughts. With six entrees like baked whole royal dorade, seared black bass and grilled branzino, along with four “built” items — including on this day “fisch” tacos featuring grilled blue marlin — customers are provided every opportunity to explore the path-less-traveled of the seafood world.
Throw in four creative vegetable preparations, two soups plus three each sides/desserts — all at friendly price points — and you have a nicely balanced, locally sourced bill of fare.
“I don’t like bragging about our business, but we’ve been excellent for 30 years at just about everything we do.”
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