The menu at B.I. Fish Company was 15 years in the making.
All that time, Jess Goldwater, co-founder of the new Bainbridge restaurant, went about his life and career in the tech world daydreaming of the Hawaiian fish stands and seafood joints he’d become enamored with while visiting the Aloha State.
Why not here, he thought, “Why not bring that back-to-basics culinary philosophy home to the Northwest?”
Upon moving from Seattle to his wife’s hometown of Bainbridge three years ago, he met Tad Mitsui, head chef at Heyday Farm and manager of Heyday Market, and confided his dream: a Hawaii-style casual seafood restaurant specializing in quality fish simply prepared.
Flash forward to earlier this month and the time for daydreaming was at last over. The restaurant (located at 4569 Lynwood Center Road NE, a stone’s throw from the historic Lynwood Theatre) was officially open, it was time to cook.
“We’re pretty excited,” Goldwater said. “I was smart enough to know I had good business sense, but no real restaurant experience … so I knew you got to find a good partner.”
It’s a partnership embodied by the restaurant itself, philosophically and physically.
B.I. Fish Company is actually located inside a recently remodeled, enlarged version of Heyday Market, now offering an expanded menu of pre-prepared foods, and being run as a joint operation in the exact space that was once storied island eater Ruby’s. That’s especially ironic for Mitsui, as he worked there as a chef once upon a time.
Now, though Mitsui’s doing business within the exact same architectural parameters as yesteryear, the order of the day and the experiences he brings to the kitchen, after spending time working in hotels and for iconic Northwest chef Tom Douglas, are much different.
“What this kind of turned out as was a blend of our ideas of what we wanted to do,” he said. “Jess had an idea for the [BI] Fish Co., and I had an idea to do more prepared foods for the market, so we kind of melded them together.”
“We kind of came up with this philosophy that with restaurants they can be more than one thing,” Goldwater agreed. “I think our partnership really worked from the beginning because Tad’s style of cooking at the farm has always been keep it simple; really simple but great ingredients, cook them perfectly and then let the ingredients do the work. That’s the philosophy here as well: Find the freshest seafood you can, cook it simply and perfectly and those things just kind of seemed to blend together really well.”
Thus they finally settled on this new hybrid operation, a three-sided shop/eatery made up of B.I. Fish Company, the traditional offerings of the farm store, and the new and improved menu of Heyday Market: rotisserie roasted meats, hot foods (roasts, stews, soups, etc), hot and cold side dishes, prepared salads and more on a revolving basis.
“[It’s] kind of a one-stop shop for that prepared meal when you’re on your way home from work or soccer practice — or eat it here,” Goldwater said. “People in general seem to love the food. They like the idea, they like the two concepts that we’ve got going here, and they seem to be working pretty well together.
The farm store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Visit www.heydayfarm.com/store to learn more.
B.I. Fish Company is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Menu options include a fresh fish plate (choice of fish and preparation style with rice, fries or salad; market price), fish tacos (a two-taco plate with rice fries or salad for $14, or à la carte tacos, $5 each), three-piece Panko-crusted fish-and-chips with fries and cole slaw ($15), Hawaiian-style poke served in a bowl on top of rice and topped with seaweed salad ($18) or in a lettuce “taco” plate ($16), and a fish sandwich served with rice, fries or side salad ($15). Visit www.bifishcompany.com to learn more and see the entire menu, or call 206-451-4929.