Blue Plate Oysterette

Restaurant: Blue Plate Oysterette

Location: 1355 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90402. 310.576.3474

Date: October 18, 2011

Cuisine: American Seafood

Rating: Good eats

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Blue Plate Oysterette is a relatively new (couple years) addition to Santa Monica’s high turnover Ocean Ave restaurant strip. And I’ve been meaning to do for awhile.


The location is prime, with a gorgeous view of the park and the ocean.


Today’s menu.


We sat at the raw bar, looking into the busy kitchen.


Oysters were of course mandatory. These are a number of different types of Pacific oysters Ximemez style (with aged sherry vinegar, tomato, mint, and EVO). They shellfish were all good, but  I really liked the tangy sauce.


We were interested in the yellowtail special on the menu but the waiter cross-sold us to this yellowtail ceviche. Peruvian food is on fire right now. It was a good ceviche, with that potent lime taste, but it pretty much obliterated the subtlety of the fish. I wish we’d stuck with the original — but again, that doesn’t mean this isn’t a very fresh and well done implementation of ceviche.


New England clam chowder. Cherrystone clams, light cream broth, bacon. This tasted good, with a nice smokiness from the bacon and lots of clam. They lightened it from the traditional in a concession to modern tastes. I like my chowder loaded with heavy cream and butter. And no wonder I’m not the thinnest guy in the world!


Another case in point, this “Lobster mac & cheese. gruyere, herbs, truffle oil.” This was real good stuff, with a lot of big chunks of lobster meat.


Crabcake.” Lots of good creaminess and soft blue crab in here. While not as good as the crab torta at Capo, it is a very respectable crab cake. Yum yum.


And the “lobster roll.” Another favorite of mine. I didn’t actually order this, but they have it on the menu, and so I found a web photo, because I love lobster roll. It looks good. Next time I’ll try it to compare to the excellent one a mile north at The Hungry Cat.

All and all, this was a good lunch, with classic (and new Peruvian) seafood. The fish was all very high quality, and being a seafood lover, I’ll be back.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Room with a Vu

Restaurant: Vu [1, 2]

Location: 14160 Palaway Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292 310.439.3033

Date: July 28 & 30, 2011

Cuisine: Modern

Rating: Interesting, but a little all over the place

ANY CHARACTER HERE

My brother and I were out for our weekly lunch adventure and after Gjelina had a 45 minute wait we made our way to Vu, which I had tried a couple months ago for dinner.


Vu does live up to its name, sporting a nice patio with an excellent view of the marina.


I was a little surprised to find the lunch menu, PDF here, a bit “more conventional” than the modern tapas centric dinner menu.


Bread.


“Grilled Polenta: Asparagus, tomato, pickled red onion, aged balsamic.”


Green Curry Soup: Mussels, coconut boba, micro cilantro.” This was quite good. Fairly spicy, coconuty, definably rich. The mussels, boba, and pork lumps inside were like little prizes to hunt for.

“Seared King Cole Duck Breast Salad: mixed greens, goat cheese, dried cherries, chocolate-spiced cashews, red wine vinaigrette.”  This was pretty tasty, the duck was good, and the various elements. But the mix was overall a little weird. I’m pretty sure there was sisho in the greens, as they had that distinct flavor. Now I like sisho, but the overall flavor profile of the dish was a little helter-skelter.

“Blue Crab Cakes: charred tomato, orange, brioche bread crumbs, pickled red onion, mache, mustard ice cream.” These crab-cakes were way over fried, and inside they were stuffed with tarragon. So much so that they tasted like tarragon cakes. This wasn’t ideal, masking the crab flavor (as did the heavy fry). No where near in the league of the crab-cakes from Houstons or Capo.

I also popped down to Vu two days after this with my toddler from some brunch as we were already in the Marina.

The brunch menu can be found here.


Pancakes. Pretty conventional. I think the syrup was vanilla syrup, which was tasty.


My son likes a mix in with strawberries.


“Lobster Omelette: asparagus, shaved fennel, niman ranch pork belly, pommery hollandaise, home fries.” This wasn’t bad at all, but the overall flavor profile was again a little weird. The sour mustard clashed a bit with the sweetness of the pork and lobster.


Some VERY good fries, with a cumin based seasoning on them.


And some fantastic Neiman ranch bacon. Really really good bacon.

Overall Vu is trying interesting stuff, but the chef is too wild with his palette. I’m all for crazy and interesting combinations and new modern techniques — really all over them — but they need to be employed with care. Dishes still have to work together harmoniously, which isn’t really going on here.

Click here to see the previous review of Vu.

or other LA restaurants.

Tidewater Crab

Restaurant: Tidewater Grille

Location:  300 FRANKLIN STREET, HAVRE DE GRACE, MD 21078 410.939.3313

Date: April 18, 2011

Cuisine: Eastern Shore American

Rating: Real crab cakes!

ANY CHARACTER HERE

One of the great things about the greater Washington DC area is the proximity of authentic Eastern Shore crab (and hence crab cakes!). Technically this is a “guest palette” as my brother was the one doing the eating. So the text and pictures are by Mitch Gavin.


An unassuming coastal frontage but a surprising beautiful find.  My parents have been going to this spot for a decade or two. We used to go to a restaurant up the street with a reputation for great eastern shore crab cakes and fried chicken.  I think I remember a s a kid getting a lot of bacon and dipping it in apple sauce.  To be discussed at a later date.  But in the recent past 2 decades M & D have been talking about this place.  I finally went one recent visit driving from DC to Philly to see my cousins.

To start: Maryland Blue Crab Soup.  Hands down my favorite soup and most scrumptious!  Vegetable base with chunks of tomato, corn, green beans I think and loads of crab meat.  Just crab.  Followed by a spicy seafood seasoning.  Something that reminds you of the beach and spiced vinegar fries.  Hot!  I tried to squeeze a bowl in because it’s going to be a year before I taste something this good again.

Now onto the crab cake!  Tidewater is the best crab cake east or west of the Mississippi.  These things are just so truly American, harder to find and worth savoring every bite.  Again you don’t find this in many places, it’s almost pure crab meat, very large and seared in a pan just right.  The taste of crab is so distinctive and Maryland stands alone at the top, athough Louisiana might get the Blue Crab too and be a closer runner up.  Arguably better tasting than the more expensive Maine Lobster this sandwish melts in your mouth.  The chips at Tidewater are unique — just simple strips of baked potato –and great!  The lettuce and tomato are unnecessary because additions just mask the special taste of the meat, so I recommend just lemon and bun.  No tartar was added to this sandwich.  🙂  [ although Andy adds that he loves tartar sauce because “fat == flavor” ]

After a few iced teas, a cup of soup and the oh so lovely crab sandwich the total was only $24.  Sandwich $14, Soup $4 and tea $2.5.


True tidewater country.


Here is another example, this one from Washington area restaurant Clydes.

Clydes crab cake was surprising lovely too, especially after closely visiting the Tidewater as  acomparrison.  It was a little more seared and smaller but very tasty.  They even simplified the platter for you with no lettuce or tomato, annoying not to be given the choice, especially since they have over the past 30 years.  And I’m not kidding people I’ve been going to this restaurant over 30 years; I even had my Bar Mitzvah there in the bright room upstairs in 1987!

Now the true pride in a restaurant in my opinion is not changing something that’s good.  Over the years, Clyde’s has managed to maintain the absolute best Chili I have ever had, and they have been doing so since before 1985.  It’s dark, molassesy, tangy and damn freaking good.  Seriously I’ve had other “great” chili’s but the tang and flavor of this one keeps me coming back year after year (when home on holidays!).

Dad had to leave early so I ordered the Blondie Brownie Sundae (not pictured), which I liked as a kid for mom and I.  The thing used to come in a tall Sundae glass, have a great grandma blondie brownie with carmel and great vanilla bean ice cream, nuts and everything but when the server brought it out on a flat plate the Blondie Brownie had no brown in it at all. It was disappointing as a too sweet flat white pastry looking thing with some vanilla ice cream, whip creme and thick brown chocolate sauce all over it that wasn’t good, maybe some nuts, the ice cream was similar but in short supply.  Thumbs down and unfinished between two.  That doesn’t say much that we then decided we didn’t need the unnecessary calories.  But on a positive note I’ll be back to Clyde’s again for that Chili, Crab cake and a lot of other stuff.  Clye’s gets a thumbs up.

Some other good crab cakes can be found on the west coast at Houstons or, surprisingly, at Capo. But they aren’t quite the same.