Taste this!

CorrespondentFebruary 10, 2006 

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I hope it's safe to reveal, this close to Valentine's Day, that my wife has gotten a little spoiled over the years when it comes to dining out. Let me hasten to add that I mean that in a good way. As my most frequent dining companion for seven years now, she has become increasingly hard to impress. This makes her, more than ever, the ideal restaurant critic's tablemate.

So when she declared the sea bass she had last summer at the Wild Orchid Grill to be "the best piece of fish I've ever had," it got my attention. OK, I'll admit that the writer in me winced slightly when she added that "it melts in your mouth."

But darned if she wasn't right. Underneath a delicately crunchy tweed of crushed macadamia nuts, the pristine white flesh of the fish is so perfectly moist and tender that it quivers slightly when you pierce it with a fork. Cliche though it may be, "melts in your mouth" is the most apt description I can think of.

Evidently, my wife and I aren't alone in our assessment. The dish has become a fixture on the menu at Wild Orchid Grill, and chef David Lopuszynski's presentation is just the same as it was that night in June when we first tasted it. Coconut-scented Israeli couscous, dusted with toasted coconut, echoes the delicate sweetness of the fish. Lime aioli and a bright confetti of cilantro and tiny diced red, yellow, orange and green peppers add just the right note of contrasting sparkle.

Hmmm, wonder if it's too late to get a table for Valentine's Day?

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