You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘seafood’ tag.

Nice little slideshow on HuffPo highlighting the best and worst seafood choices. I get so mixed up about which farmed species are safe and which aren’t.

U.S. farmed catfish= OK

Farmed salmon= very bad

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I truly don’t enjoy writing negative reviews. Most restaurants try their best to put a good product forward. Others just phone it in and rely on consumers’ low expectations to keep the money flowing in. The rest go out of business. We make an effort to visit locally-owned restaurants and avoid the corporate chains unless absolutely necessary. It’s just assumed we’ll get more personal attention and fresher ingredients, and it feels better to keep our dollars local. We’ve generally had good results with this strategy.

So it’s with much disappointment that I give a “thumbs down” to the Marblehead Chowder House. We’d heard all this talk about their “Best of the Valley” and “Readers’ Choice” awards and figured it might be a great gift card option for Christmas. I get the impression that Marblehead is something of a cherished institution and i’ll probably be accused of snobbery by at least a couple readers. Listen, if you’re in the mood for buttery, uninspired seafood preparations, then Marblehead is for you. Please choose it over Red Lobster. And the service was quite good – happy, polite and enthusiastic.

We ordered the baked appetizer platter to get a broad sampling. The crab dip was good (though i’ve rarely had a bad one), the dipping toasts were drenched in oil, the clams casino were greasy, and the bacon-wrapped scallops looked like they’d just been dropped in the deep fryer. I had a tuna steak grilled “Key West” style with pineapple salsa. Sounded great. Looked great. Not so great. They cooked the fish rare as I requested but it was dry and flavorless, and the salsa, while very fresh, didn’t add much. My wife’s average-tasting lobster ravioli were just plopped on a plate with too much sauce.

All that being said, if you still plan to try Marblehead, we recommend sitting in the bar area – much cozier and not as brightly lit as the main dining room. Also, we have a good feeling that the chowders and seafood pies will be super creamy and decadent. If we visit again, it’ll be only to try the soup.

So… if you want a remarkable all-seafood restaurant in the Lehigh Valley, then you’re out of luck for the time being. (The new seafood spot in downtown Easton will get a chance when it opens in 2010.) The best strategy to get great seafood in the Valley is simply to go to a great restaurant. You won’t have as many fish options but you can be sure that what you order won’t disappoint. For example, Bolete normally has a poached white fish, salmon, tuna tartar, calamari and raw oysters – all excellent. Sette Luna has great mussels and the best shrimp we’ve ever had. And Valenca‘s codfish gratin is coma-inducing. And for the raw stuff, you can’t beat Sogo.

Just heard on the radio this morning that, in addition to the new restaurant planned for the old Lipkin’s building at 3rd and Ferry Streets, the Easton zoning board has granted permission to put a health food store in the Suzie’s Mixing Bowl location on N 2nd Street. My wife will be bummed that we procrastinated and never checked out what Suzie’s had to offer. We didn’t even notice they were out of business!

Both are slated to open in the beginning of 2010. We can’t wait for the restaurant (informally being referred to as “Third and Ferry”) since we heard it would be seafood-centric. We always wondered why Ocean, just a few doors down, doesn’t offer more seafood just based on their name? Every good restaurant in downtown Easton has a couple of seafood options, but sometimes you’re just in a seafood mood and it would be nice to have a full menu to choose from.

Just found some pics we took a few weeks back. We took my pops out for a belated Father’s Day dinner and decided to meet up at the new Sands Casino in Bethlehem. My folks had just been to Vegas and had eaten at an Emeril’s restaurant out there (“too salty” my mom declared) so we chose St. James Gate for a little Irish fare.

We approached the casino complex from Rt 412 and were guided directly into the parking garage so we didn’t get much perspective on the entire steelworks complex. But based on a 3D mockup in one corner of the casino, it looks like the plans are pretty ambitious. I haven’t studied the socio-economic pros and cons or the politics involved but it looks damn cool.

Our timing was spot-on and we ran into my folks in the parking garage. We made our way to the casino floor and walked the perimeter to the restaurant at the opposite corner. On the way we passed by Emeril’s which looked impressive – though I heard from a Lehigh Valley restaurant-junkie that the food’s not so hot. We’ll give it a chance though. St. James Gate doesn’t take reservations so we put our named down – “45 minutes.” Super! Just enough time to lose $40 in the slots. After 45 minutes our wait was magically reduced to 20 minutes. Wuh?

Jump ahead to the food. My dad started with the seafood chowder and my wife and i planned to share the stuffed mushroom which turned out to be kinda small. The chowder was good and the portion was generous.

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It took forever for us to get our entrées. My dad had the fish ‘n chips, my mom had the prime rib sandwich special, my wife went for the salmon, and i had the corned beef and cabbage – though they brought me a reuben by mistake. In hindsight, I should have kept it. My beef and cabbage was kinda blah. Same goes for my wife’s salmon. You can tell by the plating that their style is no-frills. If the food was amazing, I wouldn’t care about the lack of flair. My beef was rubbery and the cabbage-in-a-warm-bath added little flavor to the dish. Thank jeebus for the mustard. The pic below looks like it tasted.

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We skipped dessert. I think we got to the casino starving at 5:30 and didn’t finish eating till around 9. We were tired of the whole eating process. Dropped a few more bucks in the casino before parting ways. We’ll try Emeril’s some time soon – thankfully they take reservations.

Patio dining at Valenca, anyone? Haven’t been there since the fall. The dining room is fine but the patio is so much more relaxing – if you can ignore the crackheads in the square. (Just don’t feed them and they’ll leave you alone.)

If you visit, I recommend the salmon or the codfish gratin. And you have to get the red sangria. I still haven’t tried the flaming chorizo (so beeeeautifully animated on the website). The paella is their featured item but it didn’t thrill me – a decent amt of seafood but i can only take so much rice. I got bored after a few bites and we had tons leftover. “What am I supposed to do with all this Paella?!”

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