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Sep 2, 2006 03:45 AM

Old Port Lobster Shack, not too good

I went to OPLS for the first time today with my partner and a friend. I wanted to have a special dinner to celebrate a birthday. The place is pleasant, casual and rustic, as close as you can get to a lobstah pound in a strip mall in Redwood City, with a parking lot view. The staff was young, friendly and energetic.

We ordered a Maine lobster roll, fish and chips, the larger fried fish platter and clam chowdah. According to our friend, the fish and chips were very good. They had a light golden batter with moist, properly cooked haddock inside. We all liked the fries/chips and the kettle chips. The coleslaw was good but barely more than a thimble sized serving.

Here's where things started to go down hill. The batter on the fried fish platter was so overseasoned with herbs and spices that it overwhelmed the excellent scallops, fish, shrimps and clams. The lobster roll was disappointing. Not a very generous serving for $17+. Other reviewers have described it as 'overflowing' with lobster. In mine, the lobster was not even filled to the top edge of the roll, let alone overflowing. The meat was entirely claw meat with a large proportion of the dark red tip meat that is bland and mealy while being rubbery at the same time.

The clam chowder had a nicely flavored thin creamy broth, but I only found four or five small pieces of clams. The potatoes were cooked away to a puree and no flavor of salt pork or bacon was apparent. I don't know where or how celery and red bell pepper have sneaked into chowder, I've never had chowder with these ingredients in Maine.

I ended up having dessert, bread pudding with ice cream. The strawberry coulis was wonderful, sweet, tart and flavorful. The generous serving of pudding was dry and not the least bit custardlike.

A woman seated near us was having the Cioppino. It looked generous and appealing. She said it was the best thing there at $26+. It would be worth a try, but I doubt we will return.

So here's the bottom line, mediocre food, overpriced and not very close to what one can get in Maine. Go for the fries and the fish and chips (and maybe the cioppino). What we had isn't worth the price or the trip. Perhaps the restaurant's kitchen is inconsistent, which may explain why others have had a better experience.

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  1. I've been to OPLS twice (posting back in February and again in May). I can't testify as to the authenticity/quality of the food as compared to what is found in Maine (tho my companion in February, born and raised in Maine, pronounced it REALLY good) but the food on both of my visits was pretty damn good. I would hardly call it mediocre. Overpriced is what happens when you fly in fresh seafood FROM Maine, for California, as opposed to buying the same food IN Maine.

    I think, considering all the other rave reviews, you should give it another try.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rednails

      They did increase there prices a bit the past year. I've been 4-5 times and had various amounts of crab/lobster in my rolls, so I think it does depend on the kitchen staff. I totally agree about the coleslaw. How much does cabbage cost anyway? Never tried the fried platters other than the full belly clams. They were very good when I had them when they were less expensive. Now they are out of my price range. Despite the irregularity of the portions, it still is the only place around that satisfies the clam chowder and crab/lobster craving, (with casual atmosphere, since I have a toddler) other than cooking it myself.

    2. My experiences at OPLS have been pretty much exactly what the OP wrote: Lobster roll was composed primarly of small pieces of what seemed to be red end pieces of claw meat - same description, rubbery and mealy at the same time.

      Next visit, the fish and chips were ok but not good enough to make us want them again.

      Lunch with 2 lady friends was next: their fish and chips seemed underdone - the batter sort of slid off of the fish and seemed almost slimy... I had a salad that wasn't bad, but nothing special and it was expensive for what it was...

      Haven't been back lately. Prices for what was served seemed high to us. I posted as "I really want to love OPLS".

      1. I went a few months back, and ordered the fried clams and lobster roll. (I am a former New Englander).

        My take was that the clams themselves were the real deal, but the batter was not cooked-through and they were disappointingly underdone. Perhaps if I'd asked for them to be "crispy" it might have been better (or perhaps overcooked).

        The lobster roll was fine, but certainly on the expensive side.

        I did get a dozen of the rolls to go, and may re-up if I can't find adequate substitutes.

        I found it to be the exact result as I experienced at Yankee Pier some years ago.

        I haven't been back to either nor would I. On the other hand, as an eternal optimist, I'll try my luck with the comparatively new places on Market Street and on Lobmbard that have been the subject of recent Chowhound posts.

        As for lobster rolls, I can always do what I did last week, which is get a lively 2 1/2 pound lobster at Sun Fat in the Mission, steam it and make my own lobster cocktails and salads.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Alan C

          Great idea! I'll head for Ranch 99 in San Jose for a live lobstah. I may have my cousin send me some rolls from Calais, ME. LOL