Going deep

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen aims high

You can tell that size matters to Bobby Moore. The local restaurateur seems to believe that good things come in big, sometimes gargantuan, packages. Step inside the Big Fin Seafood Kitchen ' his 11,000-square-foot behemoth of a seafood emporium ' and you'll see that philosophy in action: It's an imposing space with a centerpiece globe dangling from the high ceiling and large murals reading 'Best Tails in Townâ?� and 'We've Got the Crabs.â?� Classy. Then again, Big Fin is a perfect fit amid the grandiose environs of the Dellagio Town Center. Ample square footage appears to be a requisite for tenancy here ' a requirement Moore was more than happy to satisfy after the economy and the tax man harpooned his previous venture, Beluga, in Winter
Park Village.

Still, finding refuge in this enormous and clamorous fish tank is possible ' just ask for a table in the carpeted Atlantic Room and conversations can be had with your dining comrades. 

You'll certainly hear cries of disappointment if they run out of crab legs (as was the case on the Saturday evening we visited), murmurs of dissatisfaction after slurping the 'ya ya gumboâ?� ($5.95) and exclamations of joy at the shrimp cocktail ($9.95) and can't-eat-just-one flash-fried potato chips ($7.95), served with a roasted garlic-horseradish gorgonzola fondue. Yellowtail nigiri ($4.95) had us nodding our heads, yes, yes; room-temperature tuna sashimi ($4.95), not so much. The steakhouse roll ($6.95), with shaved prime rib, asparagus, horseradish mayonnaise and arugula, was different, but not different enough. 'It was almost innovative,â?� one of my dining partners remarked.

When the mains arrived, we were hopeful for a better effort from the kitchen. Blue crab crusted grouper ($29.95), served with a light beurre blanc, lived up to all expectations. Both the fish and the crab pancake were perfect. Garlic mashed potatoes, sadly, were dry to the point of being crumbly. Queen snapper en papillote ($24.95) was a letdown not because of its flavor, but because it was unevenly cooked. The same lapse plagued the pan-seared mahi mahi piccata ($22.95), an otherwise flavorful fillet topped with lemon, capers and again with the beurre blanc.

The pound-and-a-half broiled Maine lobster ($26.95) fulfilled the restaurant's assertion of serving the best tails in town. Unfortunately, the rest of the crustacean's flesh was zapped of its succulence due to overbroiling. Indeed, parts appeared blackened ' not browned ' and no measure of melted butter could've salvaged this
charred invertebrate.

But dessert provided sweet redemption. A homemade New Orleans-style bread pudding ($5.95) was given a delightfully airy rendering, with caramelized banana slices, vanilla ice cream and amaretto sauce. The big finale came in the form of the 'Big Fin dessert� ($14.95), a rich, decadent milk chocolate brownie cup drizzled with caramel sauce and speckled with pecans. It was big enough to finish off a table of four and helped erase the slightly bitter memory of the mains. 

The fresh catch, the service and even the soaring space put Big Fin in an enviable position. If it shores up the kitchen, it should do swimmingly.


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