Sunday, February 23, 2014

Phil's Fish Market and Eatery

Address: 7600 Sandholdt Road, Moss Landing, California 95039. 831.633.2152.

Review: The family and I recently found ourself in California. See, our Honda Civic has 250,000 miles on it, and it's about ready to go the way of all the earth. In searching far and wide for a new car, we decided to buy Demaree's brother's Mitsubishi Outlander. So, we hopped on a plane to Monterey, California. (Can I just say I love Northern California. San Francisco is one of my top three American cities, and the surrounding countryside is really magnificent.)

Before we trucked over the Sierra-Nevadas back to the SLC, we grabbed some dinner in Monterey. Thankfully, the restaurant of choice, Phil's Fish Market and Eatery, was just off Highway 1. On the west side of 1 were vast fields of artichokes. On the east, the ocean. Fantastic stuff.

Now, I had heard of Phil's because he was involved in an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay." Cioppino battle, to be specific. Phil won. FYI: this won't be another review of Phil's cioppino. It's been done to death. Besides, cioppino ain't my thing, so I didn't have any.

We started out with some fried calamari and clam chowder. (And by we, I mean me, since Dem doesn't like seafood. She had a chicken sandwich. De gustibus non est disputandum.)

The calamari were locally caught, fresh, and fried well. Tender, except for the tentacles, which should always be crunchy. I enjoyed them. The sauces, tartar and cocktail, were okay. A little sweet chili or something of the like would have made them sing.

The clam chowder wasn't particularly clammy. It was more about the cream than it was the seafood, which is unfortunate.

The next appetizer were the fried artichokes. 

Mmm, local artichokes. This area of California is the artichoke-producing capital of the world. The artichokes are large and beautiful. I have never tried a fried artichoke before, and I'm glad I have now. Artichokes have a fairly mild taste (they are a thistle, after all), so the frying helped add some flavor and texture. The sauce was a ranch, which thankfully, wasn't overpowering, so you could still taste the thistle. I would like to try a recipe with slightly less breading, just to see how that would jive, but these were crunchy, steamy goodness. 

And the main course: blackened scallops.

As you can see, Phil's is not a haute cuisine type of place. Next to these perfectly cooked scallops is a big bunch of fries, a salad right out of a double wide, and garlic bread. It's a funny juxtaposition. In any case, the scallops were spot on. Tasty blackening seasoning, topped with some capers and butter. Sweet, succulent, smokey, beautiful. Fries were good to, although by this point I had eaten way too much stuff that had been dipped into a deep-frier. 

One other fun aspect of Phil's is the live music. There's just something cool about eating good seafood and listening to bluegrass music. Elliot loved it. After eating his perfunctory five bites of food (that about all he ever eats), he made a B-line to the band and started dancing with the other kids. Good family joint.

Rating: 7/10 (5/10 is average).

(Note: Mad props to Erick and Gretchen for buying us this wonderful meal. Thanks so much, guys.)

Phil's Fish Market and Eatery on Urbanspoon

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