Hoisin-glazed Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna

TJ’s Fresh Seafood Market officially has opened its new restaurant in the Preston Royal Shopping Center. We’ve been following the developments here.

Over the past 25 years, TJ’s has built its reputation as one of the best fish markets in town, and now it’s getting into the restaurant business.

Jon Alexis, the third generation owner of TJ’s, opened a location in Oak Lawn a few years ago with some extra room for a few tables. The customer reaction was overwhelming.

“Seventy-five percent of our business became dining,” Alexis says.

He was determined to bring the service to Preston Hollow, even after receiving six-digit offers to build it in places like Plano and Southlake.

“We said, ‘absolutely not,’ ” he says. “TJ’s has always been a Preston Hollow neighborhood business. It’s silly not to be doing this for the people who have supported us for 25 years.”

So, why try to perfect the restaurant concept after so many years as a successful fish market? Alexis says the restaurant will serve up types of fish that people are less likely to want to make at home, giving the fish market a larger and more varied selection.

“The restaurant allows us to be a better fish market,” he says.

The full bar features the Texas-based Herman Marshall rye whiskey straight from the barrel, which helps retain as much of the flavor as possible, Alexis says. The beers are from the award-winning Ballast Point Brewery, which brews beers specifically to pair with fish. IPA lovers should try the Sculpin IPA, the brewery’s trophy beer, and for good reason.

The wine list was designed along with the menu, taking the guessing out of which wines pair best with which dishes (it’s not always a white wine). The cocktail menu is full of breezy, light and elegant cocktails recipes from around the world. Try the Valencia gin and tonic enhanced with Juniper berries and other botanical flavors.

Some of the stand-out menu items include the pistachio-crusted seabass, the grilled endive salad with a not-too-spicy wasabi dressing and the seared scallops over grits with a bacon marmalade.

Alexis says he owes much of TJ’s success to our neighborhood, which is also his neighborhood. He lives within walking distance from the new restaurant inside the former Purple Cow space at the northeast corner of Preston and Royal. Since it opened just a week ago, there has been a 30-minute wait for a table at dinnertime.

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Pictured above left to right: Grilled endive salad with watermelon, almonds a wasabi balsamic; seared scallops and grits with bacon marmalade; ciopinno modeled after the famous dish at Tadich Grill in San Fransisco; pistachio-crusted seabass.