Discreet Diner | Pelican Fish Co.

Posted: August 05, 2007

"This place is wonderful, but you could come just for the desserts!" That was the sentiment of my dining companion after we enjoyed a leisurely meal at Pelican Fish Co. in Sewell.

We visited on the recommendation of my friend's cousin, who raved about the place after celebrating her wedding anniversary there. And we were not disappointed.

We logged on to www.pelicanfishco.com first, and decided to visit for lunch. The lunch menu is eclectic: Entrees include roasted salmon, seafood paella and lobster pot pie, and there's a surf-and-turf beef burger that sounds divine. The dinner menu goes even further.

Step from the parking lot through the wooden doors, and twinkling lights signal that you're in for a treat. This fish place does not have that oh-so-hokey decor, no anchor or net on the walls. On the ceiling, though, it does have waves of burlap that seem to billow like sails. And the black-framed artwork has nautical themes. The tables are set with white cloths, topped by white paper and flowers.

The meal opened with warm rolls, sourdough and sesame, and seasoned oil for dipping.

We started with Asian-style shrimp spring rolls ($6). It was a six-inch crispy roll filled with vegetables, vermicelli and shrimp and sliced in half on the bias. It was served with a sweet chili sauce that had just the right kick.

My entree was blackened tilapia ($12), served over linguini with a curry mango sauce and cashews. The fish was flaky and moist and not overly seasoned, as sometimes occurs in the blackening process. A perfect foil was the curry mango sauce, smooth and creamy with sweetness and a slight kick. The cashews added crunch and flavor.

The grilled cheese-and-crab sandwich ($12) was my friend's selection. It was cheddar and jack cheeses with lump crabmeat on grilled brioche. The cheeses melted nicely and blended well with the crabmeat. It was served with tomato and lobster bisque, a creamy blend with chunks of the shellfish meat.

If that had been the end of the meal, we would have highly recommended the place.

As luck would have it, the meal wasn't finished.

The dessert menu had two favorites that we couldn't resist. Key lime pie ($6.50) was a cold, creamy, sweet and tart pastry with a graham cracker crust. My dining companion raved, "This is the best Key lime pie I've ever had!" I admit that I'm not a lime fan, but I did try it. The crust was great, but the filling, though sweet and creamy, was too tart for my taste.

I opted for the banana nut bread pudding ($6) with creme anglaise and vanilla ice cream. Individually, the components are favorites of mine. Combined, it was a three-inch cube of pudding served warm with the sauce drizzled on top and on the plate. A scoop of very good ice cream was on the side, along with a dollop of whipped cream. The pudding was just sweet enough for the creme anglaise to add sparkle. Awesome.

The aim of Pelican Fish Co. is "to innovate and experiment with the classics, not reinvent them," according to its Web site. Bull's eye.

Discreet Diner | The Pelican Fish Co.

508 Hurffville-Cross Keys Rd., Sewell.

Phone: 856-589-6969.

Hours: Lunch, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Dinner, 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 4 to 10 Friday-Saturday; and 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Reservations: Recommended on weekends.

Handicapped accessible: Yes.

Parking: Lot.

Children's menu: Yes.

Cocktails: BYOB or try a bottle of Amalthea wine.

On the Web: www.pelicanfishco.com.

The Discreet Diner is a member

of the Inquirer staff and welcomes your comments. E-mail discreetdiner@phillynews.com.

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