We went to check it out on a Saturday night at about 9pm; hopeful that the wait wouldn't be too long... when we walked in we were told it was about an hour wait and that they could take our cell number and call us when our table was ready. We decided to wait it out at the bar (which was also packed, but we lucked out and got to sit down in about 10 minutes.) The cell phone call back concerns us a bit, for us local Fishtownians we know were to go to wait, but the crowd that seemed to be a Fathom that night (Society Hill/ Main Liners) probably would not.
Mike Stollenwerk of Fish and Little Fish, has done it again. As their slogan states on the front page of their website: "Damn Good Seafood." Not only is there a great menu available that consist of locally sourced dishes and sustainable seafood. There is also a Raw Bar, that has lobster, oysters, clams and shrimp. The menu has some great items, some common and some new alternatives: (This list is just a few items that are available.)
bacon, onion, brown butter
Blue Bay Mussels
coconut, panang curry, lemongrass
spiced crab gravy, cheese curd
Lobster Grilled Cheese
Smoked Marlin Tacos
crispy shallot, pickled jalapeño
maple-mustard, arugula, potato roll
red bliss potato salad
Lets start off by saying that we love mussels and as soon as we saw them on the menu we went for them: Blue Bay Mussels ($9.00), along with that we ordered a side of Old Bay Fries ($3, and a staple of Philly cuisine) and finally we couldn't resist that nights special of Dungess Crab ($8.00). To follow up the food we drank pints of PBC's Walt Wit and Kenzinger, respectably at $4 and $3 a pop. The mussels were fresh, and while they didn't come with a lot of broth like we like, the flavor packed a punch. The dungess crab special, although very messy, was absolutely delicious. So much so that we had to get a second order to indulge ourselves. The fries were a great complement to the meal, but nothing special. We loved not only the food, but the prices. Food was reasonably priced especially when you realize how fresh everything is. The beer menu was vast and affordable, and the day PBR reaches over three dollars in Fishtown is the day we know to move out of the neighborhood.
We have to say there were only two things that disappointed us. First the restaurant is very small, which means there will ALWAYS be a wait if it continues to stay this popular, and secondly the crowd. So lets touch upon the first; upon entering Fathom you will find a long and narrow dining area with laid back modern decor. Seating to your left, consists of simple tables and chairs with every inch maximized for seating. To your right you will find three massive marble topped tables and chairs that are equally as large. These tables seem almost out of place and we saw chairs bumping into each other and waitresses dodging patrons and furniture. Onto the bar, well what can we say other than besides the food the best part of the entire establishment. The bar spans almost the entire length of the restaurant and seats 24 comfortably, we were even impressed by the under counter hooks for coats and purses. Of course the large selection of spirits and the 10 beers on tap did not hurt either.
Our second issue didn't so much disappoint us as it did surprise us. We were first a little confused by the unusual traffic going on outside of the restaurant. At one point we saw several double parked cars, people stopping short in traffic and a Mercedes backing down a full block on Girard. (Good thing there wasn't a Trolly coming.) Upon entering the restaurant we noticed an overwhelming amount of older individuals and couples that clearly were not from the area. We know Mike Stollenwerk most likely has a following and we realize that the first few weeks of business would generate a buzz, especially since the food is great. Once we sat down to eat and enjoy the great food we saw a large man (Eagles offensive line large) posted outside the door wearing all black. After a few minutes, we realized he was the door security which we found to be not only strange, but very much out of place. It had us wondering why he was there? And why would he be dressed as if we were entering a club in Old City? Maybe it was to make the people we mentioned above feel safe in Fishtown, but if that was the case we think it could have been done in a more professional manner. We don't think a security guard outside Fathom would be inviting for anyone, regardless of where your live or where you are from.
As a whole the restaurant was great, good variety, fresh food, decent prices and of course a great location. The bad, the overall size we realize there isn't a whole lot you can do other than make some table changes. The clientele; doesn't bother us unless it creates unnecessary issues or awkwardness as in the case with the crazy traffic and menacing 6'4 350lb security guard.