Sexy Dishes on the Pacific
|Sam's sensuous ceviche|
Sam's Chowder House (4210 Cabrillo Hwy N at Capistrano in Half Moon Bay) welcomed us with an awesome sunset as well as their two sexy dishes, a simple ahi tuna poke that tasted as good as it did the last time we visited, and a summery ceviche of rock shrimp and bay scallops. We were right to then order a bowl of the namesake chowder, made New England style but lighter and more flavorful than most, as well as some hearty gumbo with Dungeness crab. But we held back from slurping them down, in order to save some shred of room for the entrees we shared, a platter of mixed seafood (fried nice and crisp) and the properly buttery lobster roll, named by the Today show as one of the best sandwiches in America. (And we know that Al Roker does know something about sandwiches.)
Closer to home, we enjoyed a surprisingly clear evening gazing at the Pacific at Beach Chalet (1000 Great Highway at Ocean Beach). A leisurely dinner wound down with the restaurant's featured recipe of beignets served with a dipping sauce -- creme Anglaise flavored with coffee grounds and a splash of Bailey's. It was a logical follow-up to that day's other New Orleans-reminiscent specials, a creamy crawfish and crab etoufee, and a Dungeness crab cake appetizer paired with shreds of fennel and segments of navel orange. But it was also equally welcome after the juicy ribeye steak, which comes with a choice of four sauces (green peppercorn, Bearnaise, Bordelaise, chimichurri).
By the way, for those who haven't made the trip to the edge of the city, downstairs and behind the Beach Chalet is the Park Chalet, which, with its retractable glass doors and fireplace, cozily covers all bases whether it's sunny or foggy outside. We didn't get a chance to try their stout cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (published in Sexy Dishes), but anticipate cooking 'em up in our own hot kitchen post-haste.