A SF Dinner Party / Grilled Branzino with Lemon & Thyme



On my last night in San Francisco, we had a little dinner party. I wanted to cook something special for my friends so we bought some whole branzino and grilled them. Living in NYC and not having an outdoor space with a grill had me longing to do this my whole trip. I LOVE grilling and miss it terribly. While I had never cooked a whole fish on the grill before, they turned out delicious. I must say my years of filleting fish at the restaurant truly came in handy.

I also love grilling vegetables so we decided to grill some zucchini and asparagus. I stuffed the fish with slices of lemon and fresh thyme. Whipped up a quick salsa verde for the fish made from fresh herbs, lemon and olive oil. We had a huge arugula salad and grilled some local figs for a cheese plate. We drank lots of wine including a bottle of yummy pinot we had gotten from Gary Farrell in Sonoma a few days prior. Boy do I miss dining al fresco, its heavenly. Sorry I didnt get a finished dish shot as for I was too busy cooking and enjoying the company of my friends :)


for fish

4 whole branzino (cleaned and gutted)
1 lemon
fresh thyme
olive oil
sea salt and pepper

for salsa verde

1 bunch of cilantro
1 lemon for zest and juice
olive oil
sea salt and pepper

for veggies

1 bunch of asparagus
2-3 pounds of zucchini

Slice lemon into thin slices and stuff with fresh thyme into the bellies of the branzino. Season with salt and pepper both inside and outside the fish. Drizzle in olive oil to coat to prevent sticking on the grill. Place aside and turn grill onto high heat.

Slice zucchini into wedges and place onto a sheet, toss with salt, pepper and olive oil to coat. Do the same with the asparagus. Have everything ready to grill and clean up is a breeze. Meanwhile you can make a salad (not dressing until the last minute). We also grilled some figs to serve alongside our cheese plate.

Finely chop a bunch of cilantro, add the zest of one lemon and juice of half. Season and add olive oil. Taste and adjust to preference.

Place fish on grill, cook from 5-8 minutes a side. Gently flip and remove once the flesh is white and moves easily away from the bones. Grilling your zucchini and asparagus till tender and lightly charred.

Serve fish with the salsa verde, slices of lemon and salt. Veggies and salad alongside. For dessert we grilled peaches served with ice cream and caramel.


  1. Gorgeous! I LOVE the picture of the three fish prior to being cooked, it's so clear, bright and fresh looking and I love the lemon peeking out creating another layer of colour. Beautiful.

  2. oh my gosh i am beyond impressed. that whole meal looks/sounds fantastic and the photos are so beautiful. i've been wanting to try cooking with figs for a long time now but never thought to grill them. definitely want to try this out! :)

  3. The fish is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

  4. this looks and sounds perfect! if you're ever in san francisco again, let me know :)

  5. Wonderful final shots of your trip to CA. Your fish reminds to stick to my BIL the next time he goes fishing so I can learn the art of fileting fish. He promised to show me.

  6. The meal looks and sounds delicious and having it with friends, well, I can imagine it made the meal even better.

  7. Beautiful! Dinner parties with friends are so special and your photos capture it fabulously!

  8. Looks like a great time. Nothing beats the taste you get from the grill. I totally agree that dining alfresco can't be beat (especially in weather like that).

  9. I love grilling whole fish (and figs!) in the summer. I'm wondering when you might move here? Seems to suit you pretty well. ;)

  10. Nicole, the branzino look fabulous! My favourite things on weekends are dinner parties with our favourite people and plenty of food and drink. This looked like a great dinner party. Lovely pics.

  11. Total jealousy! Seeing that you are a branzino-loving New Yorker, try the Branzino Al Forno at Gemma if you can :)


  12. yummy, I bet that tastes gooooooooood ;-)



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