Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Marine Morsels

At a dinner party we attended last night, while eating pork tenderloin medallions, the subject of seafood came up.  Probably, because there was a foreign exchange student from Chile at the table and while the language barrier was present, by making hand gestures and using stilted sentences, we could express our shared love of salmon and crab meat. 

The table topic turned to favorite Humboldt County seafood restaurants past and present.  When it was discussed that Red Lobster doesn't have restaurants on the ocean because of the presence of good quality local seafood restaurants, one diner asked where these good quality restaurants were.  Oh, touche".

The winning local seafood restaurant from the past, among those dining that night, was The Eureka Seafood Grotto.  Porter Street Barbecue is now at that location.  The Eureka Seafood Grotto was owned by Eureka Fisheries, one of the largest fish processors on the coast.  While the atmosphere was so-so, the seafood was exceptional.  Lazio's Seafood was also very good and had a great atmosphere right on the waterfront. 

Kate: I hope you are not inferring that Red Lobster is a good seafood restaurant.

Spence:  No, not at all.  I'm more of a Long John Silver guy, myself. 

Kate & Spence:  A tip of the hat to D&R for the fine delectable comestibles and the subject of this post.


Fred said...

I guess the key word in your description of the two fish places of old is was.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I sure miss the prosperity of the 50s and 60s.

Get ready to kiss a bunch more restaurants good-bye!!

skippy said...

What a fond picture to remember as traipsing down Memory Lane becomes dim and grey with age.

Eureka’s Seafood Grotto and Market was quite the icon establishment in its day. The freshest seafood lunches and dinners at ridiculously reasonable prices for the everyday common folk was their style du jour. Nothing fancy or upscale about this place: A giant faux pas clamshell hung over the door, tourist brochures hawking the area sights stood ready in the racks, maritime oil paintings of Eureka Fisheries boats— all for sale-- flanked the walls, and small bowls of the chunky home-made croutons tasting overwhelmingly of airy french bread, margarine, salt and garlic humbly graced every table next to bottles of lemon pepper and Monks malt vinegar. The place reeked pleasantly of fried fish throughout. The ever-busy waitresses bustled about serving the hungry masses in their uniform fast, cheery, and record-like precision. Heck, the whole place bustled.

The typical lunch ran on either side of $7. Fresh snapper, broiled, fried, or sautéed, lined your plate in generous fashion surrounded by a crisp cole slaw and either the way-cheesy au gratin potatoes or the yellowy-seasoned rice. And, of course, more airy french bread. Lunches came with either the routine green salad adorned with the ubiquitous sliced beet on top or the bowl of the signature white chowder drowning with clammy chunks, potato, and copious amounts of butter and flour. A small square of foiled mint chocolate would be placed on your bill before leaving; the front glass case also had a bowl of those unwrapped, puffy and buttery mints free for the taking. York peppermint patties and Snicker bars were also for sale by the hostess as she tallied your bill.

Most Fridays would see Judge Ferrogiarro adjourning his usual lunchtime window table along with the rest of Eureka’s business cognoscenti and the tourist crowd; the logging trucks and their heavy loads shamelessly rattling the large plate windows a few feet away on Broadway outside the Grotto's triangular lot.

The fish market was the place for fresh fish. You could drive up on the 6th street side, park near the curb, and zip in and out through the side door effortlessly. Fresh from their boats lying on ice were the shiny whole salmon, the steaks and fillets, the snapper, cod, sole, crab, oysters, clams, trout, shrimp, prawns, fresh lemons, tartar sauce, and whatever else—and more french bread— for sale.

The Seafood Grotto was quite a place—an ‘old school’ place-- fondly remembered both by the delicious food served throughout the generations and being the local place for family and friends to gather and enjoy.

They don’t make ‘em like they used to...

Dave Stancliff said...

We use to get their great clam chowder to go. I haven't had better since they closed.


Eel River Ernie said...

Oyster Stew!!! I could never get past the oyster stew it was absolutely great. I too miss the fish market, they even used to carry day and night fish something you can't find locally anymore.

Bolithio said...

My favorite seafood is at Kyoto's.

The Editors said...

Bolithio, Kate agrees with your assessment that sushi is fine seafood and recommends the new Kome restaurant in Fortuna for you to try out.

I may refer my comment to the wise old sage, Eel River Ernie, who probably believes all sushi is better used as bait.


samoasoftball said...

What was the seafood place on harris and E called? Skippers?

The Editors said...

At Harris and E was called Jonah's.

Fred said...

Ah, yes. Jonah's. Brings back a fond memory from back in the early 80s.

My girlfriend for a time then (her not a fond memory) used to smoke pot, so I'd go along just to go along. I got stoned with her one evening and went home, passing Jonah's about the time the munchies had to be satisfied.

Went inside the fish market part of the Jonah's (the other side being a restaurant) and they had a whole bunch of smoked oysters in their display case. The munchies made them look so good I bought a pound and a half! They weren't exactly cheap, either.

Went home and ate as many as I could stuff down my throat. Had to stop once I started getting a strong urge to have a talk with the toilet. Felt kind of yucky the next day, too, but still had over half of them left. I think I threw the rest of them away.

I love oysters, but smoked oysters? Never again! One of those experiences that sticks with you for life.