Restaurants

Here’s your first look inside The Banks Fish House

The seafood haven debuts July 21.

Three Sheets Bar at The Banks Fish House
Three Sheets Bar at The Banks Fish House. Matt Kisiday Photography

Chris Himmel grew up with stories of fishermen making 700-mile treks out to sea before jumping in a dory to reel in fish that took up half the boat.

“Those were like my bedtime stories,” he said.

Now, Himmel, who runs Himmel Hospitality Group (Grill 23 & Bar, Harvest, Bistro du Midi), and Robert Sisca, executive chef and partner at Bistro du Midi, are opening a restaurant honoring the Atlantic’s rich fishing history, debuting The Banks Fish House in the Back Bay on July 21.

The Banks took over Himmel Hospitality’s Post 390, which closed in September. Award-winning restaurant designer Peter Niemitz, who has worked on Grill 23 and Harvest, transformed the restaurant into a coastal haven, with live edge wood slabs and nautical light fixtures alongside dining rooms and bars decked out in warm browns, blues, and grays.

First floor dining room at The Banks Fish House
First floor dining room at The Banks Fish House. – Matt Kisiday Photography

The first floor is centered by the Three Sheets Bar, which seats roughly 30 and is flanked by a main dining room and a 12-seat raw bar. At the raw bar, guests can peruse a display of East and West Coast oysters, little neck clams, lobster, and live scallops, which are sourced from partners like Snappy Lobster, Wulf’s Fish, and Island Creek Oysters. For Himmel and Sisca, who are both passionate fishermen, it was important to put their connection to the sea front and center.

Advertisement:

“I grew up fishing for bluefin tuna in Gloucester when I was a kid, and now [Sisca] goes tuna fishing,” Himmel said, noting that he and Sisca first started talking about opening a seafood restaurant five years ago. “He sends me videos when he’s out there. We’ve talked about this concept for a long time, and I think that if anything in the last year has proven, it’s that there’s no time like the present. … We’re just trying to do something we love and want to share with people, and will ultimately be a place where people can have fun.”

Advertisement:

On the other side of the first floor, a dining area shows off high top tables, a fireplace, and a handful of booths and banquettes. Upstairs, the horseshoe-shaped Top Shell Bar serves as the anchor of the second floor, joined by an open-kitchen dining room, two fireplaces, multiple private function rooms, and a dining area that arguably offers the best view in the house, with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto Trinity Church. The restaurant has incorporated more personal touches, too: Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Patrick Farrell, who also happens to be the uncle of Himmel’s fiancee, spent a handful of days with Himmel on Nantucket taking photos of the island, many of which now hang on the walls of The Banks.

Advertisement:

With Grill 23 right down the street and Bistro du Midi a few blocks over, Himmel and Sisca have deep connections to the neighborhood.

Top Shell Bar at The Banks Fish House
Top Shell Bar at The Banks Fish House. – Matt Kisiday Photography

“I’m about as vested as you can get,” Himmel said. “Robert, same thing — he’s spent over 10 years at Bistro du Midi. We talked about doing a seafood restaurant on the water for years. I love the Seaport, don’t get me wrong. But at the end of the day, the Back Bay is still the Back Bay.”

Beyond the raw bar, Sisca has crafted a menu that pays tribute to the Atlantic (the restaurant, previously known as Grand Banks Fish House, changed its name to The Banks Fish House in order to encompass more fisheries across the northeast). There’s a fried Fisherman’s Platter, which uses three types of batter on its haddock, shrimp, and scallops, and incorporates sea chi — a version of kelp kimchi. Sisca put his spin on seafood flatbread with The Chowda: flatbread topped with a spread of bacon, crème fraîche, and thyme, plus clams, potatoes, and oyster crackers, which can be topped with caviar. There are crispy fish tacos, cuttlefish spaghetti, Dover sole Meuniere, bluefin tuna tartare, Grill 23’s 100-day Brandt rib eye, and — because what would a New England seafood restaurant be without it — a lobster roll.

Lobster roll at The Banks Fish House
Lobster roll at The Banks Fish House. – Provided

“We’re going to start with hot,” Sisca said. “I personally love a hot lobster roll. I think it tastes better — warm, brown-buttered lobster is better. If we get requests for cold, we’re going to do it.”

Advertisement:

With bars serving as a centerpiece on both floors, the restaurant’s drink program keeps up with its food menu. Beer, wine, and classic cocktails abound, alongside a signature sangria and a beach rose fizz using house made rose water.

When The Banks opens at 406 Stuart St. on Wednesday, it will operate for lunch Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner will be available Tuesdays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Fridays and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Jump To Comments

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com