Ivar's Seafood branch in Santa Clara
Former Seattle-ites may be pleased to know that a new branch of Ivar's has opened at the food court in the Westfield Shoppingtown (Valley Fair Mall) in Santa Clara (2855 Stevens Creek Blvd). It's purportedly the first one to open outside of Washington. The counter guy mentioned that a full service restaurant is also scheduled to open in Monterey in the future, one at SF's Fisherman's Wharf, and with additional plans for expansion into L.A. and even China.
While I don't know if they're considered among the best purveyors of clam chowder and fish 'n chips, I thought they were pretty darn good during my visits to two of their branches in Seattle. I tried the white chowder and cod at Westfield and thought both came pretty close to those served in Seattle, according to my dim recollection.
I do know that I plan to visit the branch again, if at least to rekindle those fond memories of Seattle. Next up: halibut and salmon. Hopefully one of the new full service restaurants will offer alder-smoked salmon and other Northwestern cuisine with some semblance of the "real thing".
I haven't been to Ivar's before but friends up north swear by it. I've been watching for their SF opening so I can check it out. I was even tempted to apply for the "Ivar's Dancing Clam" job because, well, I figure if being a dancing clam isn't already one of my life goals - maybe it should be.
I got the best alder-smoked salmon I have had in my life at the Farmer's Market this weekend. The guy only sells smoked fish. He said the salmon was wild, not farmed. It was expensive but absolutely amazing. The quality of the fish and the guy citing where it came from in Washington made me believe it was the "real northwest deal" (but then I'm a rube from Texas). Check it yourself & let me know what you think.