My Favorite American Restaurants of 2013

Please keep in mind that I have been to select cities throughout the US this year so this list is far from comprehensive.  I have, however, been to enough to warrant a list paying homage to restaurants  which stood out during my travels.

10. Voulas Offshore Cafe– Seattle

This cute, old school diner is not far from the University of Washington’s beautiful campus.  The staff are friendly and courteous. Watching them set up the coffee station for the line of people who couldn’t get there early enough to beat the lines is endearing.  It has a great feel with an amazing biscuits and gravy you wouldn’t expect on the West Coast. The greek omelette was a reflection of good old fashioned family values.

9. Bop ‘n Grill– Chicago

Featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, this joint has burgers and bop plates (essentially rice plates topped with a number of choices). I went with asian flare and tried the umami and kimchi burgers although other unique combinations are available. The deep flavours lovingly punch you in the mouth while filling it with bite after bite of moist, meaty goodness. This ain’t McDonald’s.

8.  Tamale Place– Indianapolis

You wouldn’t expect Indianapolis to be a hotspot for Mexican food but the aptly named Tamale place is amazing.  The passion and care in the preparation of each one is clear with every bite.  If you can, try one of the dessert tamales. The nachos and salsa are brilliant too.  It’s clean but not fancy but with those tamales, it doesn’t need to be.

7. Pastabilities- Syracuse

A pasta lunch set up like a cafeteria in downtown Syracuse doesn’t sound like a top 10 candidate…until you eat there.  The place is always packed for a reason.  First, the food is amazing.  Whether it is the pasta bowl doused in their famous hot tomato oil, the moist and flavourful meatball sub, the freshly made side salads or the delicate but delicious pizza, this place would appeal to anybody from age 1 to 100. Second, the prices are terrific.   It’s open for a more formal sit down dinner at night which I imagine is just as good.

6. Roast– Detroit

Michael Symon offers a fine dining experience in downtown Detroit, especially for the carnivorous at heart. One highlight is the wood fired grill which, despite the volatility and unpredictability of the open flame, produced a fantastic medium rare new york strip. There’s something about slurping bone marrow and eating sweetbreads while watching a pig spin around on a spit that just works for me.  Oh, they have naughty deep fried brussel sprouts too.

5. Union Woodshop– Clarkston (Detroit)

Union woodshop in Clarkston (just north of Detroit) was featured on triple D in the Kid Rock episode. Although somewhat reluctant to take advice from somebody who wears fur coats yet married PETA-happy Pam Anderson, I was excited to try it. My best advice is to act like your parents and show up for dinner when this place opens at 4 pm.  There are two reasons for this.  First, you may have a chance at the sauce laden burnt ends (brisket) which are delicious but when they’re gone, they are gone.  Second, good luck getting a seat after 430 without having to wait an hour. Sorry, no reservations.  It has everything you would expect in a smokehouse and more.  It produced some of the best pulled pork I’ve had in while.  Otherwise, everything from the sauces (try the Chinese Char Siu) to the butterscotch pudding are delicious.  They also have a gluten free menu, pizza and even a steak if you want it. The price is right too.

4. Clarkston Union– Clarkston (Detroit)

Kid Rock also brought Guy down the Road to the Clarkston Union.  Built in an old church, it comes complete with church pews, a bingo board and yes, huge lines.  It sports one of the best craft beer menus in Detroit, offering regional and national brews in taster sizes if you want a variety. It has a gastropub menu with its famous mac and cheese (with or without lobster), sandwiches, burgers with  pot pie and meatloaf specials.  Even the plowshare platter, a delicious array of meat, cheese and veggies is abundant and delicious. This church offers the holy trinity of a great dining experience: Great service, great food and great atmosphere.

3. Lucky’s Cafe– Cleveland

I do not go to Cleveland without going to Lucky’s.  In fact, I think once I went to Cleveland to go to Lucky’s.  Also featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Michael Symon showed up to promote this local gem. It’s all about fresh.  The front is filled with fresh baked goods and the staff is busy picking ingredients out of the garden you see through the window during the summer months. The “biscuits” is one of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten.  From the fluffy cheddar biscuits and eggs to the sensual sausage gravy, it is complete nirvana.  In fact, I awake craving it at times.  In addition, there are great beverages and lovely lunch items like a delicious curried chicken sandwich and a made from scratch Reuben that’s to die for.

2. Topolobampo– Chicago

Rick Bayless is considered one of the best Mexican chefs in North America.  Now I know why.  Once you navigate through the loud and hectic sister restaurant Frontera, doors open and you enter the serenity of Topolobampo.  From the minute you are seated you are treated like royalty.  Hands down the best service I had all year.  The waitstaff part like the red sea when you walk through the front of the kitchen to get to the washroom. The sommelier was informative and not pushy.  Our waiter knew everything about every dish. The menu changes frequently but you can always count on a delicious selection of nouveau Mexican dishes with bold, explosive flavours. Even better is everybody at the table can order what they want without the need to have a complete consensus in order to opt for one of the many tasting menus ranging from vegetarian to one dedicated to mole, Mexico’s most prized dish. Topolobampo is proof that not all eateries run by celebrity chefs are overrated…some are just “increible”!

1. Girl and the Goat– Chicago

Stephanie Izard in many ways has redefined what a great chef is.  Her infectious smile, lovely attitude and commitment to working vigorously within the walls of her two West Randolph restaurants have been rewarded with numerous accolades including a James Beard award.  The menu is a mosaic of tastes and textures which tickles every sense.  Whether it’s the escargot ravioli,  the pig face which gets smothered in egg yolk or the goat belly confit, the attention to detail from both a visual and taste perspective were amazing.  Translating passion to a plate is an art and Izard is Picasso.  I’d tour this gallery anytime.

Chicago: Day 6: White Palace and Black Sabbath

My final day in Chicago was a race to see how many DDDs I could hit before my 2 pm flight.  After a strategic session with a map, I determined a route that would allow me to hit three; two within walking distance and one on the way to O’Hare.

Having spent most of my time in Chicago on either the Magnificant Mile, the convention centre or West Randolph, it was nice to get off the beaten path a bit.  My first stop was the White Palace Grill.  Opened in 1939, this place is the traditional 24 hour American diner. It has all the classics, from eggs to waffles to Mexican breakfast platters.  I sat at the counter and joined the show as one of the many cast and characters of the Chicago scene.  A very pleasant waitress quickly came to my rescue, offering me the large menu and a newspaper which I much appreciated.  It’s amazing how out of touch one falls when stuck in a conference for 4 or 5 days.  I scanned the menu and ordered a coffee, some strawberry banana french toast with a side of bacon and some grits to try.

The banter in the place  was primarily focused on the Hawks Stanley cup win the night before.  People were walking in and out proudly donning T-shirts and jerseys.  There seems to be a trend among couples to walk around Chicago wearing matching shirts…it’s rather endearing. I was rather amused when another waitress checked in to start working.  I think her name was “Happy” or something like that. If so, the name fit her personality and I quite enjoyed listening to the conversations and laughter that erupted during my breakfast.

Without much of a wait, breakfast arrived. The strawberry sauce was on the side, so some assembly was required. It was classic french toast with classic toppings.  I love grits and I wasn’t disappointment by the Palace’s butter laden offering.

Strawberry Banana French Toast sans strawberry
Strawberry Banana French Toast sans strawberry
Strawberry Banana French Toast
Strawberry Banana French Toast
MMMM...bacon and grits.
MMMM…bacon and grits.

My Take

White Palace grill is an all American 24 hour diner.  It has all the attributes of a good experience; good food, good service and good decor. Although it may not  top the Zagat guide, it’s a place where you eat lots and leave feeling happy, happy, happy.

Verdict: 4 Guyz

White Palace Grill on Urbanspoon

Stop number two was Panzanno’s Italian Market which was about a 10 minute walk from White Palace.  During this time, I got to admire some of Chicago’s downtown architecture from afar while walking over the West Roosevelt bridge. The bridge itself is quite interesting. I snapped a pic of one of the numerous icons which lined the street.  I did a quick internet search to find out the meaning of these depictions but came up empty.

Despite the name, I wouldn’t call Panozzo’s a market.  True, they sell a small array of pastas and Italian staples, but the main attraction is the deli and take out sandwiches.  There are a few “old school favorites” but the signatures are the crescentine sandwiches.  Like the name suggests, they are crescent shaped sandwiches stuffed with all sorts of delicious fare.

I ordered two sandwiches to go; the porchetta crescentine and the meatball sandwich. It was hot as hell outside, so I was also drawn to the ice cream freezer which was sporting an array of Zarlengo’s Gelato.  There was an article hanging on the wall touting the frozen treats, so I grabbed a Rum and Raisin  for the walk back to the mile. It was smooth and creamy with lots of raisins and lots of rum flavour filled the cup.

Porchetta Crescentine
Porchetta Crescentine
Meatball Sandwich
Meatball Sandwich
Zarlengo's Rum and Raisin Gelato
Zarlengo’s Rum and Raisin Gelato

I like when thought is put into things, even simple things. Sometimes the difference between a good sandwich and a great sandwich is one ingredient.  There is always the opportunity to push the boundaries just a little and I feel Panozzo’s does that.   Both sandwiches were delicious. I think the pickled fennel and chilis  in the porchetta and meatball respectively added enough to make these sandwiches stand out.  The bread was fresh and the fillings were ample.

My Take

Although the decor is a little barren and the vibe a little flat the sandwiches were delicious. The offering of Zalengo’s at Panozzo’s is another example of the comradery that exists between restaurants and other vendors in Chicago.  Like Metropolis coffee and Graham Elliot’s eateries, it’s a win-win and refreshing concept.

Verdict- 4 Guyz

Panozzo's Italian Market. on Urbanspoon

Zarlengo's Soft Serve on Urbanspoon

After I devoured the gelato I walked through the park, took a few pictures of Soldier field from afar, made a wish in a fountain, admired some more Chicago architecture and got soaked in a short but intense downpour.  I did a quick change into some dry clothes, repacked, hailed a cab and proceeded to my third DDD of the day, Kuma’s Corner, which is located on the way to O’Hare.

Kuma’s corner prides itself on a fantastic concept;  the fusion of burgers and head banging metal.  This is not a superficial claim.  Everything from the decor to the staff to the name of the burgers scream the theme.  I see metal this way….stubborn and abrasive on the outside but with a core of justice and determination in the middle.    Take their beer philosophy for example.  One may attribute the “No Bud and Miller” philosophy to a pretentious and elitist attitude.  Consider the possible lyric:

“Drink no Bud, drink no Miller,

I’m a commercial lager killer.”

Sounds a little nasty, but the foundation in rooted in supporting the small guy, a concept as important to the brewing industry as it is for food. To this point, I started with a Three Floyd’s Robert the Bruce Scottish ale on tap and was later hypnotized by a bottle of  Apocalypse Cow  housed within one of the the many bar fridges and brewed by the same Indiana brewery.  Although it came with a $20 charge, it was a fantastic IPA . Rich and citrusy, almost sour and intensely hoppy , it was a wonderful complement to the burger.

The menu itself is burger-centric with a spattering of bar food available as well.  The three guys beside me were indulging on an order of mac and cheese which looked divine (mind you when does mac and cheese not look divine).  There are almost 20 burgers available, each with a combination of standard and not so standard toppings such as avacodo, smoky and spicy cheeses, wing sauce, poached pears and yes, a fried egg.  I went Ozzy and ordered the Black Sabbath burger which was a patty seasoned with blackening seasoning, spicy jack, chili and red onion.  I chose a salad as the side which turned out to be pretty good.  My colleague went with the burger of the month which in this case was the Stranglehold, an 8 oz buffalo patty garnished with aged cheddar, arugula and habanero mustard.

Kuma's Side Salad
Kuma’s Side Salad
Black Sabbath burger
Black Sabbath burger
Black Sabbath burger..Take 2
Black Sabbath burger..Take 2

There’s a whole lotta burger.  The bun was delicious and the toppings worked well together.  I had a nibble of my colleagues bison burger which hit the mark as well.  If anything, I wish there was a little more liberty to choose the wellness of the burger because a patty cooked medium would have been over the top.  Instead, the patty was a bit on the dry side although far from inedible.

My Take

Kuma’s concept is a fun one.  I may have seemed out of place hauling a week’s worth of luggage into this tiny joint and sitting among biker types and foodies who were embryos or twinkles in their father’s eyes when the majority of the metal playing in the background came out.  Needless to say, I received the same rugged yet considerate service despite the fact I don’t sport a tattoo, two inch spacers or a permanent chip on my shoulder. The food was good, the gimmick works and the beer selection was amazing.

The first line of Metallica’s Fuel is “Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire”.  Big burgers, plenty of local beer and whisky on tap do just that.

Verdict- 4 Guyz

Kuma's Corner on Urbanspoon

DDD:Vancouver:Jethro’s Fine Grub

Dispatch: Hello, may I help you?

Me: Yes, I’d like to report a UFO sighting.

Dispatch: A UFO sir? Where are you?

Me: I’m at Jethro’s.

Dispatch: Jethro’s?  Are you in a trailer park somewhere, sir?

Me: No, I’m on Dunbar Street in Vancouver.

Dispatch: OK.  Why don’t you tell me what you saw?

Me: Well, I dropped into this DDD for breakfast and ordered some biscuits and gravy to start.  The gravy was out of this world. Hahaha…get it? Anyway, the gravy was rich and tasty and had a nice spicy kick which took a minute to materialize in my mouth. The biscuits weren’t quite cloud-like.  Well, maybe a heavy cloud.  Anyway, suddenly these two UFOs landed right at my table.

Biscuits and Gravy
Biscuits and Gravy $5

Dispatch: Sir, have you been drinking?

Me: No, they don’t serve alcohol. I had a coffee though.

Dispatch: Ok.  Please describe the UFOs.

Me: They were about 12 inches in diameter and a couple of centimeters thick.  Light brown in colour and filled with strawberries and frosted flakes.  They were also covered in some sort of white  material. I’ll send you a pic.

Grrrreat Cakes $12
Grrrreat Cakes $12

Dispatch: White material?  Could it be whipped cream sir? What did you do next sir?

Me: Hmmmmm…ya whipped cream sounds right. Well, they looked good so I ate them. Or at least I tried.  I only managed to get through three quarters of one of them.

Disptach: Were they grrrrrreaaat!? (slight snicker).

Me: Well yes, that’s what they are called. Grrrreat cakes.

Dispatch: Oh.  Do you think it’s an isolated incident?

Me: No.  The staff were way too friendly.  And most of them have a lot of ink so I think they are actually maps that may in fact identify where the mothership is. I forgot my iPad at the table and they ran out after me to make sure I got it back.  Maybe they bugged it…

Dispatch: Ok sir.  So let me summarize.  You went to Jethro’s in Vancouver, ordered really good biscuits and gravy and what sounds like large pancakes stuffed with strawberries and frosted flakes.  They were both grrrreat. The staff is friendly and most are heavily tattooed and they chased you out the door to return the iPad you foolishly left at the table.

Me: Yes, that sounds right.

Dispatch: Well sir, I don’t believe they are UFOs.  They just sound like big, tasty pancakes. Pancakes don’t fly sir.

Me: Oh, the F stands for flying.  I thought it stood for fluffy.

Dispatch: You sure they don’t serve alcohol?

Me: Positive.

Dispatch: OK, I’m going to close this file sir.  I think we have all the information we need.  I suggest next time maybe you order an omelette, one of the benedicts or maybe the massive breakfast burrito. The variety is insane and the portions are huge.

Me: Ya, I think I saw the burrito.  It looked like a bus. The lunch sounds good too.  Thanks.

Dispatch: No problem sir.

Verdict:  5 Guyz

Jethro's Fine Grub on Urbanspoon

DDD:Cleveland:Momocho Mod Mex

Another old yelp post with a few updates…..

It was a swell night and I was sitting in a hotel at the Cleveland airport. I called down to Momocho Mod Mex and they assured me I would get in without too much of an issue. I arrived to be told it was a 30 minute wait but was seated after about 15. I opted for the patio which provided lots of room in nice backyard type surroundings.

I started with a michelada ( beer and hot sauce wit some lime and salt on the rim). Well done and good price point ($4.50) and  I liked the ability to choose from any of the numerous Mexican and non-Mexican beers on the menu. I opted for an old school Tecate. There are also plenty of margarita choices on the menu as well.

After mulling over the array of guacamole (there’s everything from goat cheese to crab), I opted for the jicama/pineapple ($8.50). It was a big portion, was fresh and tasty but not as unique as I hoped. Maybe it was my choice!

The tamale dumplings ($8.50)  were ordered as a side and were very authentic although served with the same side as the taquitos.

momo tamale

From the mains, I ordered the Machaca (brisket)  ($15.50) and atun (tuna) ($17.50) taquito plates at the recommendation of the waiter.  The tuna was a perfect medium rare and the brisket was tender and flavourful.  The highlights were definitely the  brisket   and the blood orange marmalade that came with the tuna. The chile rajita served on the side was good but not spectacular.

Atun Taquitos (Tuna $17.50)
Atun Taquitos
(Tuna $17.50)
Brisket
Brisket

Dessert was the Capirotada ($6). Despite the unique menu description (gingersnap and jalapeno) and promise by the waiter, I would say it was an average bread pudding.

Dessert
Dessert

Decor inside was unique and very tasteful. Cozy in and out even though some of the art is a bit creepy!  Service was slow at times but the staff was pleasant.

My Take

All in all, a nice experience in a relaxed environment with refined, modern Mexican food, although the flavours became a bit monotonous as the meal progressed. The guacamole was a tiny let down, either because it was so highly touted or because I went conservative and shied away from the trout, crab, goat or blue cheese.  This place is an atypical DDD  in both cost (I found it a little pricy) and decor.  Plus, I swear Guy Fieri was one of those strange masked men in the pictures hanging on the wall. It didn’t blow my mind but I also didn’t leave disappointed although I do believe,based on the pictures inside, I had a few nightmares of masked Mexican wrestlers administering full nelsons on me while screaming “Mi comida es la mejor del mundo” in my ear.

Verdict: 4 Guyz

Momocho Mod Mex on Urbanspoon

Review:DDD:Detroit:Polish Village Cafe

Another older yelp review with a bit added….

It was three o’clock on a Saturday, and the regular crowd shuffled in. There was lots of old men next to me,  making love to their surowa kielbasa with Sousie piwnym.

That was the scene.  I tend to go to DDD during off hours to avoid crowds but it looks like there is no lull here.  There was a short wait list and 5 of us were seated within 15 minutes of arriving.

I agree with many other reviews about  the no nonsense attitude of the waitstaff.  It’s not a bad thing.  If you want traditional Polish food served traditionally, you got it!  Goblets, bowls and plates are slammed down throughout the meal, but in an efficient and endearing way. I mean, they carry 5 or 6 glasses at a time on a tray and I needed two hands just to lift it up to my mouth.

Big Heavy Beer
Big Heavy Beer

Any place that makes 6 soups a day is a friend of mine. I had two..the dill pickle and the chicken noodle.  Based on the DDD endorsement and other ratings of the pickle soup I expected a bit more but it was good.  The chicken noodle soup was straight forward and delicious and somewhere around $2.50.

Dill Pickle Soup
Dill Pickle Soup

Five of us tried the cabbage rolls and five of us were happy.  The tomato sauce was simple and tart.  The cabbage was cooked but not soggy.  The filling was zachwycający (delicious). Even the beans and mashed potato fit the theme perfectly….simple, traditional and homey.

Cabbage Rolls
Cabbage Rolls

The Surowa kielbasa with Sousie piwnym is sausage with beer sauce.  The kielbasa was tasty, seasoned well and big and the  sauce was a nice,  heartwarming compliment. The kraut, however, stole the show.

pv kiel
Surowa kielbasa with Sousie piwnym

I was talking to Davy, who sure liked the gravy…..the Hungarian pancake was over the top.   I saw it on DDD and thought Guy was pulling tricks on me. He wasn’t.  Everything was done exactly as described on the show and the flavours were rich. This dish was phenomenal.  Even bite was different but with an underlying sameness that was delicious.  From an authenticity perspective, pork vs beef  is a mundane argument when the seasoning and complexity of the dish is so incredible.

pv stew
Hungarian pancake-

The biggest disappointment was the pierogi.  They were rather bland and overcooked. This may be a difference of opinion, but I prefer a softer dumpling, not one with a crunchy exterior.  They were decent but not what I had hoped for.

Pierogi
Pierogi

Dessert was two crepes, one apple and one cheese.  I ordered this  because the waitress said they were both homemade.  Apple was great.  Cheese was a bit chalky and wasn’t helped by the sour cream.  Some of the tasty apple compote on the side would of been a better balance in regards to taste and flavour.

My Take

Portions are plentiful and the food is good. The menu is diverse enough to appeal to any combination of people you choose to dine with.  Just don’t expect too many smiles, except for the mischievous…..ok, creepy dolls which adorn the walls. Polish Village cafe…..we’re all in the mood for a melody and you got us feeling alright.

Oh, la la la,  di da da
La la, di da da da dum.

Verdict

Despite the pierogi, this place still gets 5 Guyz!

Polish Village Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review:DDD:Baltimore:Sip and Bite

This is a lazy one.  I wrote this review on Yelp! last summer and I’m doing a cut and paste with a few additions.

Sip & Bite is a true diner located in the vicinity of downtown Baltimore since 1948. It has evolved into an iconic joint which now ships it’s crab cakes, mugs and T-shirts nationwide.

Sip and Bite Front
Sip and Bite Front
Sip and Bite Cup
Sip and Bite Cup

When I entered, the first thing I saw were three or four cooks busy on the grill cooking eggs, breakfast meats and potatoes. It was a divine sight. They had a synchronicity reminiscent of a team event at the Olympic games.

Although I didn’t meet the owner, I met Deena, one of the waitresses and she was terrific. When I ordered the DDD platter, ( famous crab cake and spanakopita) she told me to order the Greek salad and not the sides since the intense flavours of the sides would interfere with the crab cake. I smiled, nodded and agreed. She was right. The greek salad had the best feta I have ever tasted. Deena proudly told me it was barrel-aged imported feta and I believed her. The crab cake was amazing…great texture, great taste and a great commitment to the crab and not breadcrumbs or other fillers. The spanakopita was good as well. It was full of spinach flavours and tasted fresh. The pastry was a tad too crispy.

Sip and Bite Greek Salad
Sip and Bite Greek Salad
Crab Cake and Spanakopita Combo
Crab Cake and Spanakopita Combo

Between greeting regulars and telling me stories of defunct GPS units, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Deena at the helm.

Speaking of old fashioned service, Sofia, the owner, responded my yelp post with the following:

Thank you for taking the time to write us such an excellent review! Dina really is terrific, she has so many regular customers coming in for her its insane!! Very glad you enjoyed everything, please stop in again whenever you are in town, and hopefully this time we can have the pleasure of meeting! Enjoy the rest of your summer!

My Take

Sip and Bite has been around this long because they care about the right things, the food and the service. It is welcoming from the minute you walk to the minute you leave. It’s not phony or staged or deliberate. It just is. As I said on yelp, I would return here in a second. No blackboard menus or plaid-wearing abecrombie models serving you. Just old-fashioned food with old fashioned service.

If i an offer one line of advice…. Ask if Deena is in (I’m hoping she is) and order a crab cake. If you do, you will give this dive a five……

Verdict: 5 Guyz

Check out my overall  DDD List at https://fareeatales.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/diners-drives-ins-and-divesthe-list/

Sip & Bite Restaurant on Urbanspoon

DDD:San Diego:Blue Water Seafood Market and Grill

I’m a sucker for a good gimmick, especially if it’s done right.  I’m not talking being served by a pirate or a creepy clown making balloon animals for whiny kids.   I’m talking  a good, simple concept that defines a restaurant, one that draws people in from miles away.

The Blue Water Seafood Market  Grill fits the bill.  It’s easy the longest wait I have had at any Triple D, even though I went around 4 pm.  I had a 5 or 10 minute outside, standing behind two old ladies (who reminded me of the female version of  Statler and Waldorf  from the muppet show) bitching about the number of people since “that man from that show came”.  I nodded in agreement and looked to the sky while whistling in hopes that my pasty white complexion wouldn’t give me away.

Blue Water Sign
Blue Water Sign

Once inside, I realized I was still in for a wait which in the end was a bit shy of an hour.  During this hour, a number of cool and/or amusing things happened:

1.  I continued to be exposed to the banter of the local gossip club talking about everything from annoying tourists to the destruction of the San Diego water front.

2.  I was able to choose from  any of the numerous cuts of beautiful, fresh fish cooked in a your choice marinade and served on a sandwich, salad, plate or taco. The pacific halibut was calling my name so I had it thrown on a salad.

3.  I was offered a local craft beer for a few bucks in line while I waited (which I believe lead to a stunk-eye or two from the Waldorf).  There is something liberating about sucking back a pint under the watchful eye of a swordfish.

4.  I enjoyed watching people trying to violate the “you can’t sit until you get your food” policy. Staff patrol the grounds like parking attendants looking for violators. If necessary, they will make a scene similar to that of an embarrassing “Happy Birthday” serenade. It seems like a stupid policy until I paid, turned around and… like clockwork; a window seat magically appeared…and it was  nowhere near the muppets.

The line
The Line (I wouldn’t dare snap Statler and Waldorf)

For some reason, I’m missing the picture of the halibut itself but the freshness of the fish and the care in preparation was evident.  It was perfectly cooked and a good portion size for the price.

They stick to what they do best…fish.   A dozen oysters for $15? Shrimp Ceviche for $5.25 (with El Indio chips from next door)?  A bowl of clam chowder for $4?  Even today (I went a couple of years ago), the menu still offers fresh fish at great prices.

Here’s a Statler and Waldorf quote which I think is quite relevant in this context.

Statler: [Up in the balcony, Statler and Waldorf make fun of Pepe’s bad jokes] Hey, the shrimp’s floundering!
[Statler and Waldorf both laugh]
Pepe the Prawn: You shut-up okay?
Statler: He told us to clam up!
Waldorf: What’s he want to do? Mussle us?
[Both laugh again]
Pepe the Prawn: Don’t get me steamed okay!
Statler: Steamed shrimp!
Waldorf: Oh, pass the cocktail sauce!
[Both laugh]
Pepe the Prawn: That’s it. I’m coming up there!
[Leaves the stage to go to the balcony]
Statler: Whoooaaa… I’m shaking!
Waldorf: You’re always shaking.
[He laughs and Statler grumbles]

In the end, like the muppets, Blue Water  is a gimmick that works. If you have an hour to kill,  don’t see it as a long line but instead as an experience and enjoy; the fish is well worth the wait.

Verdict: 5 Guys

Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill on Urbanspoon