IN THE KITCHEN Chef Jason Besse was out of professional kitchens, working for a decade in sales and produce-buying for area food wholesalers, before landing at the new Brew Fish Bar and Eatery in Marion this fall. Before that, he was a chef at Not Your Average Joe’s restaurants, which have locations in Randolph, Watertown, and Needham.
“If I was going to open a restaurant,” said Besse, 37, “this would be it. I believe in the concept’’ that husband-and-wife owners Todd and Erin Zell came up with.
That concept, Erin Zell said, is “a creative twist on pub fare,” with from-scratch offerings leaning on the abundance of local fish, in-season produce, and Besse’s creative mind, which cranks out a wide range of pizza, appetizers, and items such as house-made beer mustard.
“This is what I was meant to do,” Besse said. “When I’m done with work, I go home smiling.”
THE LOCALE Brew Fish was The Wave for years and owned by the Zells for the past several. It was suffering from age and boring fare, including limp pizza and lackluster beer offerings. Gone is that dingy, dated place, replaced by one with food, brews, and ambience vastly improved.
The Zells gutted the premises, eliminating walls that separated the bar and dining areas to make one well-lit rectangular space. There are giant TVs above the 25-seat bar, tables handmade from scrap pine, mahogany-plank end walls, and booths with high separators for quiet dining. The kitchen was doubled in size, and a cozy lounge in the rear outfitted with upholstered chairs, a perfect space for TV sports-viewing and functions. Live acoustic music plays Thursday and Saturday nights, and in summer there is a popular outdoor patio.
Open for lunch and dinner, Brew Fish opened in late June to a booming summer business in this small seaside community. It’s easy to find off Interstate 195 about an hour from Boston, with ample parking in a paved and crushed-seashell lot.
ON THE MENU Those familiar with the so-so Wave food in the past will be greatly delighted by what Brew Fish now offers. Fun dishes include “Ch’ale,’’ ($3/cup) a brothy blend of kale soup and chowder, loaded with clams and kale, along with chourico and veggies. Count the chicken wings ($7) as a best bet: eight large crispy sections, by our count, coated in garlic and parmesan cheese. Pizza is huge here, including the spicy buffalo version ($10) on a thin, crispy beer-infused crust, and the spinach, prosciutto and balsamic glaze version (above). Entrees include the IPA steak tips ($18), a whopping, very tender portion of beef marinated in Buzzards Bay IPA, garlic, and bourbon.
Besse is planning to ramp up gluten-free options soon, including wraps, and an expanded menu to include more salads as well. Anyone with dietary concerns can ask to have dishes tweaked. Desserts are limited, currently just three, each $6 , and include a triple-truffle chocolate cake.
We had a rock-star server the night we went, Michelle, who was effervescent and helpful. When we vacillated over beer and wine offerings, she insisted on bringing us free samples to help narrow our choices.
Beer is king at Brew Fish, with Todd Zell, a contractor by trade who did the renovation work, lording over an impressive menu of offerings, including 20 craft and microbrews on tap, from Buzzards Bay Horseneck ($5) to Zell’s favorite, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale ($6), with its notes of vanilla and oak. There are also craft brews in 750-milliliter bottles, to be shared like wine, such as Allagash Curieux ($35), with 11 percent alcohol by volume, aged in Jim Beam barrels.
Brew Fish Bar and Eatery, 210 Spring St., Marion, 508-748-2986, brewfish.net.