"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sam's Chowder House: Raising the Bar on the Lobster Roll

On a mild weekend, my mom came to visit me in Los Altos. I decided to plan a fun day trip to Half Moon Bay for us to both explore something new. We had such a great time that I've been wanting to return to Half Moon Bay ever since! The coast line is gorgeous! And there is a lovely small town hippy vibe in the down town area. People are friendly, laugh easily and there is a strong (but welcoming) locals community. Our day started with a stop at San Gregorio General Store. This place is wonderful and I highly recommend it! It's a commitment as it will take at least an hour to get there (unless you live at Half Moon Bay) - but right when we stepped in, I felt like I was transported to a 1980's small town music venue in Hawaii. The general store is a combo locally-made shop / bar and concessions / library / and music venue! Everyone there knew each other except for my mom and I, there was a band playing funky tunes, and everyone had a beer in hand - even though it was 10:30 AM on a Saturday. The books ranged from Native American folklore to Vegetarian cooking. We snuggled up to the old fashioned wood stove with a hot chocolate and listened to the band make jokes and occasionally play a folk song.
Next stop was the coast. The coast is so gorgeous it makes anyone look like a professional photographer!
And here is a pic of my mom and I:
After we were sufficiently cold we decided to go walk around downtown Half Moon Bay. It is a lovely street sprinkled with cutesy themed stores, gourmet cooking shops, wine and cheese shops, bakeries, art galleries, and up-scale dining. There is also an old school jail house that has been converted into a museum and some awesome surf-centric street art:
Finally, we arrived just in time for sunset to Sam's Chowder House.
We had a quiet window seat and they immediately brought over a basket of freshly baked soft sourdough bread. I firmly believe you can tell a lot about a restaurant by the quality of bread they serve you gratis before a meal. You can tell even more about a restaurant by the olive oil they bring you to accompany the bread. To start we ordered a baby spinach salad and hot Blue Crab cakes served with fresh bell pepper, cucumber and fennel with rémoulade sauce.
The crab cakes were a more fried than I like - although they were still tasty. I think they would have been better lightly pan-fried so as not to take away from the taste of the delicious Blue Crab.
Next we ordered the Bluenose Sea Bass served with Roasted root vegetables, parsnip, celery root and yams with baby spinach and salsa verde. While it was tasty, the presentation was nice, this particular entree was nothing to write home about - however I did wholly appreciate the use of seasonal vegetables and the spinach and salsa verde topping.

While up until now, my reviews for Sam's Chowder House have been mediocre - the lobster roll made up for any lacking. The lobster roll was superb! Their lobster roll has been voted by NBC's The Today Show as one of "America's Top 5 Sandwiches." The Maine Lobster Roll is delicious Maine lobster lightly tossed with butter on a toasted specialty bun with chips and coleslaw.
The lobster roll was phenomenal! I only wish that Sam's Chowder House would raise the slaw and the chips to the standard set by the sandwich. The chips are your standard cheap Lay's and the slaw is way to creamy with a mayonnaise base. I left a note for the manager recommending they upgrade to thick salt and vinegar potato chips and swap the mayonnaise base slaw for a crisp lemon and vinegar cabbage slaw. Despite these adjustments the lobster roll is worth it! For dessert - have some of their house made frozen yogurt chocolate vanilla swirl.

Sam's Chowder House
4210 N Cabrillo Hwy

Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
650 712-0245      

No comments: