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Escolar Ceviche at the Publican

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[Photograph: Lindsey Howald Patton]

I've spent the last few weeks sampling ceviche all over the city for an upcoming feature (stay tuned!), and while this one didn't make the cut, it is worth talking about. Plus I'll take any excuse to hang out in the Publican, even if the escolar ceviche ($17) wasn't ceviche at all, but a textbook Italian crudo.

The sliced raw fish was very lightly sprinkled with citrus juice; dotted with the freshest-tasting olive oil on earth; and arranged with pieces of grapefruit, avocado, and slim circles of a deseeded Fresno chile. The flavors of cracked black pepper, grapefruit, and olive sang beautifully together, but nothing took the spotlight away from the Monterey Bay escolar, which was melt-in-your-mouth rich and silky (there's a reason it's sometimes called the "butterfish").

The Publican's menu is ephemeral, but when another take on ceviche—however loose with the term—crops up again, I'm willing to bet it too will be a beautifully balanced dish.

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