$$$$ ($14 and under)
Fishnet photo

Editorial Review

Fishnet, stocking sandwiches from the sea
By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

Suffering from hamburger and pizza fatigue? You're not alone. The news that Ferhat Yalcin, a longtime dining room fixture at Corduroy in Washington, was flipping fish in a spot of his own sent me racing this month to College Park and a slip of a place called Fishnet.

The Istanbul native has shed his suit and tie for a T-shirt and knit cap. Instead of pounding carpet, the former restaurant manager is behind a counter, where customers can scan a chalkboard menu and place their requests. Each day brings a handful of fish varieties that can be grilled or fried, then set in a roll with lettuce and tomato and a smear of a house-made sauce. The choices run to fresh mahi-mahi, porgy, bluefish and salmon, which also makes its way into scroll-size tacos using flour tortillas. A sandwich of strong-flavored bluefish treated to a Turkish-inspired spread of pureed walnuts, garlic and sumac made me wish I had a Fishnet closer to home.

The last time I recall eating fish sticks was in high school. Fishnet creates happier memories by serving flaky hake in a golden crust formed by egg wash and airy Japanese bread crumbs. The lone letdown on my visit was a thin fish soup, reminiscent of what's left behind in a pot of steamed mussels: mere broth.

Any meal is better with a side or two. The french fries are made in-house, as are the chunky coleslaw and vivid yellow potato salad.

The shop's minimalist decor lets you focus on the food. Aside from a collection of photographs of Istanbul and some fishnets on the walls, there's not much to look at, although I like the music Yalcin pipes in from a Turkish radio station. The self-service restaurant offers WiFi access; the password is "mackerel."

Fishnet was not Yalcin's first idea. "I wanted to do a burger place," he says. "But Michael Landrum" - the impresario behind the meaty Ray's empire - "beat me to it."