Chef Paul Arias Dishes on The Fishery’s Latest Menu Items for Fall

Written By: Kai Oliver-Kurtin Diving into Sustainable Seafood with The Fishery’s Chef Paul Arias
Photographed By: Michael Wesley

Expert Name: Paul Arias
Credentials: Executive Chef at The Fishery
Number of Years at The Fishery: Seven

Walking into The Fishery in North Pacific Beach feels like entering a rustic fisherman’s cabin that’s the size of a warehouse. The industrial elements, exposed wood, fish mounts and photos of San Diego’s historic fishing industry make you feel like you came to the right place to get fresh seafood. With its large dining room and bar area and the fresh seafood display counter, The Fishery is a popular lunch and dinner spot, watering hole and marketplace among the locals.

Chef Paul Arias has been at the helm of The Fishery since 2008. He rolls out a new menu quarterly to pair the menu’s main staples with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The latest fall menu features a grilled swordfish entrée served with herbed mashed potatoes, baby kale and a chanterelle mushroom red wine sauce. The richness of the marsala-like sauce and the thickness of the fish make the dish feel like hearty comfort food. The lighter grilled albacore belly entrée is paired with herb-roasted fingerling potatoes, a shaved apple and Brussels sprout slaw and a pomegranate barbecue sauce. The pomegranate seeds scream holiday season, but the slaw and barbecue sauce give a nod to the summer season that’s never too far off in San Diego. For dessert, the pumpkin cheesecake comes with a rum raisin sauce, spiced and candied pecans and a quenelle of whipped cream. The flavors are reminiscent of homemade pie and hot buttered rum served at Thanksgiving that always keep you coming back for seconds.

Q: How would you describe The Fishery to someone who’s never been here before?
Paul Arias: The Fishery is a casual yet upscale restaurant. It’s minimally nautical in decor with an open floor plan. We focus on local, high-quality produce and seafood sourced from reputable and trusted fisheries to drive our menu.

Q: I understand The Fishery is an all-in-one restaurant, market and seafood distributor. How do you benefit from procuring ingredients directly in-house?
PA: Pacific Shellfish is our parent company–it allows us to pick and choose the freshest and most responsibly sourced fish for the restaurant. The market is comparable to our jewelry case—in it you can see daily the quality of the product that we are serving and distributing.

Q: Sustainable seafood is a popular topic in the culinary world right now. Is that something The Fishery is involved or concerned with?
PA: We are very aware and concerned when it comes to the sourcing and the method of catch of all our seafood. Our general manager recently attended the international SeaWeb Seafood Summit on sustainable seafood, and in doing so, returned with sources and information that we as a company very strongly believe in and adhere to.

Q: What are the most popular items on The Fishery menu?
PA: The most popular dishes change with the season. When halibut and salmon are in full swing they are definitely our most popular. During the winter months, lobster and Dungeness crab steal the spotlight. Our staples are the Mr. Brown’s swordfish tacos and the Alaskan halibut & chips, which are popular year-round.

Top Sellers

Best-selling wholesale items from The Fishery market:
1. Salmon
2. Yellowfin (ahi) tuna
3. Smoked fish

Q: Is there any added pressure when you’re serving seafood at a restaurant located steps from the ocean?
PA: I don’t think location has anything to do with added pressure—the pressure has to do with being in business for 18 years and being known for consistent, high-quality seafood and being able to meet people’s high expectations on a daily basis.

Q: How did you get your culinary start?
PA: When I was 13 years old, I got a summer job on the Santa Monica Promenade at a Belgian-style frites restaurant where I peeled potatoes. One day the owner let me help him to make one of the sauces, which was a garlic mayonnaise. Making mayonnaise from scratch really blew my mind, and from that moment on, every job I have had has been in a kitchen.

Q: Tell me about your time as a chef working and studying in France.
PA: My time living and working in France opened my mind to a culture much more food-focused. Meals were celebrations and social events—I really took that to heart.

Q: I know you’ve worked in other local fine dining restaurants, like A.R. Valentien and The Grill at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. What did you take away from those experiences and bring with you to The Fishery?
PA: Working at The Lodge at Torrey Pines with Executive Chef Jeff Jackson had a huge impact on my idea of what fine dining is. His philosophy of using the best local ingredients with the simplest preparation—allowing them to remain the stars of the plate—has followed me into every kitchen I have worked in since.

Q: What are some of your favorite local restaurants to visit when you’re not working?
PA: The truth is that I don’t eat out very often, and when I do, I like to try out new places around town. But if I really want a treat, I will always go back for the drugstore-style hamburger at The Lodge at Torrey Pines.

Native Knowledge: When cooking at home for his family, Arias leans toward using Asian ingredients and making seafood-centric meals. His son will eat anything as long as there aren’t any mushy carrots involved.

The Fishery

5040 Cass St
North Pacific Beach, CA 92109
858.272.9985 |

About The Author

Kai Oliver-Kurtin is a San Diego-based writer who contributes to several national and regional publications, covering travel, dining and lifestyle.

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