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Jul 16, 2007 09:43 AM

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay

I've seen some recent posts on Sam's, and I wanted to give you an update. We went over to Half Moon Bay on a whim and decided to check out Sam's since there seemed to be a fair amount of buzz about it - some good, some bad.

This falls in the bad category. The view and environment was great, but that was about it. Our waiter was distant, the chowder was watery (they proudly announce on the menu this is because they don't add flour - perhaps they should), the poke was VERY salty, the fish in the Fish & Chips wasn't done correctly (that with enough batter wasn't cooked all the way, and the rest were barely battered). All in all, for the price, it wasn't worth it. Is really too bad as the menu is great and the setting is wonderful.

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  1. My recent experience there supports your take on Sam's too. My wife went a few months ago and said it was terrific. She was excited to go back, which we did two weeks ago. We ordered the ceviche, the shrimp was rubbery and it had a jalapeno flavor that was way too strong. Our other dishes were equally bad. Service took awhile, we had to ask for silverware after the food arrived for example. All in all, a bad restaurant in a great space.

    We cut our meal short and went to the Flying Fish Grill for tacos and it was great. Highly recommend it there. Very casual.

    Flying Fish Grill
    99 San Mateo Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

    5 Replies
    1. re: sgwood415

      Flying Fish Grill huh? Wow I have driven byt that place so many times w/o ever stopping. Love fish tacos too so will definitely check it out.

      1. re: sgwood415

        I second Flying Fish Grill. We've liked everything we've had there. I particularly like the chioppino. Rich & savory.

        1. re: sgwood415

          We go to Sams Chowder House all the time and it's excellent. The chowder is great as I don't like the thick chowders that most places serve. It's true east coast style. I love the lobster roll and the oysters. Sometimes we sit out on the back deck and get a couple of beers, the poke appetizer and the popcorn shrimp. The poke is excellent and so fresh and the popcorn shrimp has a little kick to it that we love. When we're done, we always get an ice cream cone to share. Good stuff!

          1. re: Coastburner

            Have your tried the entrees? Curious to hear more about those from someone who goes all the time.

            1. re: sgwood415

              Yes, I have had the entrees and have found them to be fine. We go there a lot, but obviously this place is controversial for some reason, which I can't quite understand, but seafood restaurants seem to mean different things to different people and chowder does as well. :-) But obviously everyone is entitled to an opinion. It's not the best restaurant in the world, but it's the best one with a water view in the area. The service could be better, but that is true of every restaurant on the Coastside.

        2. Because I live on the coast, I have eaten at Sam's many, many times and have never had any of the experiences listed on these posts. I just had dinner there two nights ago and it was absolutely delicious. Their special that night was a halibut in a pistachio crust on a bed of tomoatoes and served with polenta and it was mouth watering. Last week, I had the spaghetti bolognese and it was to die for. The service has always been excellent and I absolutely love the Poke & the Fish & Chips. I meet a group of girls there after work and we've had the poke many times and it's always been good. I'm laughing about the comment that the fish was barely battered. One of the things I hear people often say is that they like the fish and chips because they get more batter than anywhere else.

          In addition, Sam's has recently added a bar outside with a great menu as well. It's the absolute perfect spot to spend an afternoon looking out at a stependous view.

          I think they had some initial problems when they first opened but their new chef came from Cetrella and he's changed the menu a great deal in the last month. I think it's the best spot on the coast for both food and atmosphere.

          3 Replies
          1. re: cherylhmb

            My understanding is that the chef from Cetrella, Lewis Rossman, was only consulting at Sam's. Is he the full-time chef now? Or is there someone else? Just wondering because the place seems up and down based on the recent reports (even the reports within my own family!).

            1. re: sgwood415

              I was only there once when it opened and it was pretty poor but I hoped it would work out the kinks, so good to hear some positive reports here. Cetrella is excellent so I had hoped Sams' would be good too.

            2. re: cherylhmb

              We went there really wanting to like it (hoping that it would be good) because we love seafood. We were hugely disappointed. It is unlikely that we will ever return. It was that bad.

            3. My hubby and I went to check out Sam's last week, and sat out on the covered patio area, which was quite nice. Service was excellent, and thought the fried oysters were good, clam chowder was excellent (I like the thinner chowder myself). We also ordered the crab sandwich, which I liked, but my hubby thought it was too much mayo.

              1. I went there in April and was pretty dissapointed. I ordered the fried calamari, crabcake and shrimp, which were pretty much flavorless. The sauce was too greasy and coleslaw in a watery dressing. Our waitress dropped a few pieces of our bread on the way to our table and plopped the dropped pieces on our table as if it hadn't happened. As she walked away she dropped another piece of our bread (and our butter) on the ground, and just left it there. The whole experience left a lot to be desired.

                1. We are locals who tried Sam's early on and were disappointed. A couple of friends said the place had improved so we tried again last week, for lunch this time and figuring on testing the signature dishes--chowder and fish and chips. This time the watery chowder did have a lot of clams and flavor was good, but it was still watery. The fish and chips were very greasy, as before. Upshot: Any of the other places at the harbor have better food and are considerably less expensive. Sam's is lucky to have the highway location because then they get the tourists and beach visitors. They'd never make it if they had only local trade.