Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Restaurant Review: Sam's Chowder House

Sam's Chowder House - dinner on February 19, 2015
I’d never been to Sam’s Chowder House before and apparently it’s a fairly recent addition to the restaurants on University Avenue in Palo Alto. Although I don’t know how recently because I tend to avoid going to that area for dinner because finding parking is always a hassle. In fact, I’d avoided the area for so long that I forgot how much of a pain parking was. I got there 15 minutes early but it took me over 20 minutes to find a parking spot so I ended up being late. Oh yeah, that’s why I don’t like to go to dinner in that area.
The interior is bifurcated – there’s one eating area to the left and another to the right but you can’t look from one into the other so the restaurant appears smaller than it is. On the right was a live “band”, i.e. a couple of musicians playing instruments. We had a table on the left side which I preferred. I don’t mind music playing but meeting friends for dinner is a very social thing for me and I like chatting and catching up, hard to do if you have to compete with music.
Clam Chowder
The menu has a good variety of entrees, mostly seafood as you would expect from the name but there’s also a burger if you’re inclined to turf more than surf. Prices are all over the place. The low end is under $20 but you can also get lobster pasta, complete with a crab cracker for the lobster shell and a bib to preserve your clothes, for $40. I hovered over a few different choices but finally settled on the lobster roll. I’ve always liked the concept of a lobster roll (lobster + bread) but rarely have it as most places clutter the lobster with – ugh – mayonnaise or some equally unappetizing sauce. I’m a plain girl all the way.
Lobster Roll and fries
But I wanted to try the lobster roll at Sam’s so I quizzed the waiter on what “exactly” comes in the lobster roll. He said lobster, butter and celery. Awesome. Hold the celery and you’ve got a deal. Which he did. The roll came out toasted and supporting some lobster meat dipped in butter. I’m not big on butter on my lobster although I can accept it just fine. It was good although, given how plain it was (but no, I had no regrets about skipping the celery), it was really just like eating lobster dipped in butter with some bread. No complaints but I wasn’t so over the moon that I’d have to have it again.
Lobster Pasta

Had better luck with the dessert we ordered. My friends and I had narrowed it down between the apple crisp served warm with vanilla ice cream or the molten chocolate cake, also served warm with vanilla ice cream. The molten chocolate cake ended up winning because it turned out the apple crisp had raisins in it. We know I believe raisins are grapes being punished by the culinary gods so the crisp was a non-starter. The molten chocolate cake came with huckleberry sauce but I don’t like my chocolate with any kind of fruit sauce so I asked them to put it on the side which they obligingly did. And sing hallelujah, the molten chocolate cake really did come with a molten center. Chocolatey goodness all around.
Molten Chocolate Cake
Sam’s Chowder House was a good place to try and had fairly decent food although I don’t know if the pricier entrees are really worth the cost. 20 minutes to find parking definitely doesn’t make me a repeat customer but that’s not their fault.

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