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Santa Monica Seafood, Costa Mesa


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#1 Priscilla

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 11:16 AM

I like Santa Monica Seafood, again. There have been recent years when I felt that their selection and quality control weren't what they used to be, but they are back on their game, seems to me.

Course as with any fish purchase from anywhere you have to be an active participant, using your good judgment guided by experience, as Nero Wolfe would say to Archie. One very good thing too is they always have lots of wild to choose from, which is useful to me since I don't buy farmed.

When we lived in the flatlands of Orange years ago there was a conveniently located SM Sfd. on Taft @ Main, no longer there, but was what got me knowing about the company.

So, it's down to the Costa Mesa store on 17th for OC SM Sfd.

The other day after the Irvine Farmers Market we zipped over for fish and the guy was nice enough to bring out a whole new slab o' albacore and cut the middle out for me. I like that kind of thing, very much. Not to mention albacore is my favorite of the tuna types for cooking... also for eating raw. Although I have come around to the poke cubes at Marukai for spicy tuna... very good.

Other recent good things from there have included Petrale sole and Dungeness crab meat. And I like their Mexican wild shrimp.

I wish they would open a store closer to S. county... I think it would do huge business. However I am glad they are there in any event, and it's not so bad a trip esp. when we're already near UCI at the farmers market or on the Costa Mesa Food Trail.

#2 Priscilla

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 07:35 AM

Brought home SM Sfd. New England clam chowder + the LBB sourdough rolls they have by the per for EastEnders Friday dinner last night.

While their Manhattan style is good, too, we prefer the New England, and not just because it's creamy, although there ain't no complaints about THAT. Very very well-made soup, which, for me, is saying something. Well-seasoned, tasting of actual fresh ingredients, excellent consistency, which is an especially difficult thing for clam chowder purveyors to get right -- it is so often either unappetizingly pasty or too watery.

Soup is my favorite food, and I make them all the time, incl. clam chowder, and for me to drive in Friday afternoon traffic to the terminus of the 55 there with all the other 8,000 people just to get this is a testament of a sort to its goodness.

It is yum.

#3 Priscilla

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 06:03 AM

Sunday trip to SM Sfd. after Cream Pan breakfast... nice big piece of albacore which I cut into 6 thick pieces, and good-looking mahi-mahi which is resting quietly in its herb/garlic/lemon/olive oil marinade, after the suggestion of Alan Davidson I've been using with all this year's SM Sfd. mahi-mahi, to be served similarly tonight.

Had so many good-looking, appealing choices... including shad roe, which while not in the least local would be a highly seasonal Nero Wolfeish/Craig Claibornesque treat. And boned skate wings! Which I would have liked to prepare w/browned butter and capers.

But there is only so much one can buy at one time... I was pushing it getting 2 meals' worth, I do not like to keep fish overnight usually but made an exception for the Alan Davidson mahi-mahi due to the marinade rationalization.

#4 Priscilla

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 08:10 AM

Santa Monica Seafood's Costa Mesa store, which had been closed for remodeling, has reopened.

This is a good thing... but I will admit to some interim trepidation, due to the sign indicating more restaurantage was what was being renovated in, when what I want from SMS is high-quality raw things. Given the chance to come and see for myself at a preview, I was intrigued.

Needn't have worried; the long glass case stretching the length of the store appears untouched, except for perhaps a bit of buffing. The new table seating and oyster bar have been installed in an area that was formerly dominated by an unattractive, overlarge fridge, so the net improvement is striking. The oyster bar at the outside corner is especially well done, a curvy marble bar with comfortable barstools and the available eponyms snuggling evocatively in an ice tray.

I love West Coast oysters, and the fresh list had several varieties. Sure hope this West Coast representation remains an intent. Mention should be made of young Aaron the oyster barman, who did such a fabulous job shucking and plating, skills that are often in short supply even in self-styled so-called soi-disant seafood restaurants. Lacks the nearly-100-years-in-the-making patina of San Francisco's Swan Oyster Depot, but nevertheless might be as close as we can get in OC to a comfortable, casual place to have a plate of oysters competently presented and a decent glass of wine. No small thing, to me.

SMS has installed an actual chef in the new actual restaurant, Eric Baran, a Le Cordon Bleu graduate who has worked at the likes of Saddle Peak Lodge and Spago. Not everything on the the menu interests me, admirably restrained in length though it is, but among the things I did try was a Mano de Leon scallop dish that was extremely well thought out, the large scallops served on a salade of arugula dressed with a grapefruit vinaigrette, bits of the pink fruit strewn about as well. Really delicious, and NOT just because it put me in mind of a salade w/lobster, grapefruit supremes, and grapefruit vinaigrette that I've been making for years and years. OK maybe a little bit because of that, but still.

So ya, oyster bar and restaurant added. And I ADORE the crab-net chandeliers -- very very well done, when things like this so often are not. But, SO nice to have our fish market back!