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goin to sea salt tonight... any reccommendations?

  • j

so yea..

finally goin out to sea salt tonight, I really want the fish and chips but everything looks soo good.. can anybody reccomend anything that simply must not be passed up?

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  1. Don't know if it's too late, but I really liked the clam chowder.

    1. The lobster roll. Spendy at $20, but really good.The fish and chips were also good.

      1. Skip the fish and chips. Not really fish and chips, more southern in its take, a cornmeal breading, nasty slaw.

        LOBSTER ROLL is the way to go.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sensi63
          r
          Robert Lauriston

          The breading on the fish is unusual, but to my taste it's superior, as is the slaw. LOVE the slaw, I got a side order even though it came with the F&C. Chips need work, sort of Luka's style but so dry I had to soak them in malt vinegar.

          Lobster roll's my other winner so far. For $20 it better be!

        2. how big are the portions and how is the squid?

          1. m
            Morton the Mousse

            I guess I'm in the minority, but I disliked Sea Salt. Ceaser Salad was sub par (I should know, I order them everywhere) topped with anchovies that were simply revolting. BLT was OK, but the trout was overcooked and all the other flavors in the sandwich were so strong that the bland fish was completely superfluous. I'm also spoiled by Fatted Calf bacon. Maybe I should have ordered that lobster roll, but I'm not about to drop $20 on a sandwich my first time at a restaurant. What I ordered was so unimpressive that I wont be back. Mediocre, unsatisfying lunch for two was $50.

            Everytime I try a restaurant in the Lalimes Family (and I only try them once) I feel like I'm paying outrageous prices for food that is merely passable. On my casual dining scale Sea Salt gets a 3 out of 10, T-Rex gets a 1, Fonda gets a 5 (until you get the bill, then it drops to a 4 or 3) and Jimmy Beans gets a 2. There are so many great restaurants in the East Bay, I just don't understand how the Krikorians get away with serving such crap.

            16 Replies
            1. re: Morton the Mousse
              r
              Robert Lauriston

              It's not cheap, but the chowder, grilled sardines, fish and chips, lobster roll, slaw, and broccoli di ciccio were all worth the price to me, and there's good draft beer and (now) nicely matched wines by the glass. Prior to Sea Salt, there wasn't anyplace in the Berkeley area where we could satisfy a craving for that kind of food.

              What was revolting about the anchovies in the Caesar?

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I liked them. They seemed like the fresh sardines you can get in Italy.

                1. re: LizK

                  The sardines are strongly fishy, so if you don't like that sort of thing, you won't like the sardines at Sea Salt.

                  Well, that's where Chowhound helps. I often order some of the dishes recommended as favs and a few others to branch out and see what else is on the menu (which is true of most reviews I read).

                  If you try the clam chowder at Sea Salt and don't like it, well, nothing will please you at Sea Salt. Haven't got to that Lobster Roll yet, because despite mainly raves, I remember one luekwarm post.

                  Haven't tried the trout yet, but I see that their menu lists crab salad with avocado, blood orange and mint which may have persueded me to make Sea Salt my Monday night visit to check it out. I loved the beet salad, but another poster didn't.

                  The simple fish has always been done extremely well and I'm a big fan of their desserts. Actually the menu online is looking really excellent. I like that patio, so with the bad weather I haven't been over there recently.

                  Like Robert said, there's really nothing else fishy in the East Bay. Only Fish. in Sausalito can compare. Never was a fan of Aqua or Farralon in SF, so Sea Salt makes me happy.

                  As to Fonda, there are some things over there that are grossly overpriced and not that special. I'm actually not that much of a fan of the guac and chips. Nor do I think those lamb chops that everyone raves about are that special. They don't give me my usual lamb rush.

                  The tacos aren't the first thing I'd order either. Good, but don't do it enough for me to justify the price. Hate the creme brulee... hate it.

                  On EVERY visit tho, I MUST HAVE the Toasted peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chile and lime. At $3, who hoo!

                  Other outstanding (to me)dishes:

                  Grilled skirt steak with Manchego onion rings and mojo colorado - Dios Mio !!!

                  Quesadillas with mushrooms, epazote and salsa cruda - these are turnovers and the wonderful filling just oozes delicousness.

                  Tostaditas with citrus-braised pork, guacamole and chipotle salsa - amazing fall-apart tender pork.

                  Oaxacan-style black bean refritos with cotija cheese - I've never had better refried beans than these rich, fudgy beans.

                  Mixed green salad with almonds, quince vinaigrette and manchego (outstanding almonds and great use of the cheese)

                  Warm Chocolate cake - mmmm

                  The special dishes that they make are usually good, but none have matched the above. If you don't drink, the vigin mojito is great. Not crazy about the aqua frescas. On the $5 menu the spicy wings are the way to go (and ask for the bottles of hot sauce).

                  OK, but I wouldn't order it again - molotes, tamale, tortillas (real rip-off price wise),

                  I think I've said more than enough about T-Rex ... but it's closest to my house, open lunch/late hours that most other place's arent, and has easy parking. Sigh, I will be back. Wings ... going for the wings.

                  I am totatlly unobjective about Lalime's because it reminds me so much of Bizou (now Coco500). The food doesn't reach those heights, but it is pretty close for me. Also, the bartender there is from Bizou and after a 10 years of eating at Bizou monthly, she really knows my tastes and what to suggest. So can't buy something like that elsewhere for at least another decade. SO glad she didn't go to T-Rex.

                  So, should you find yourself in the unfortunage situation (for you) where you are at any of these places again (guest of friends) that's my little guide for the things I like best.

                  I know if I'm ever unfortunate (heh) enough to cross the threshold of Gary Danko again I'l go for your suggestions of chocolate souffle and beef. Not a fois gras eater.

                  Hope the OP reports back on how dinner was LAST night.

                  Link: http://www.seasaltrestaurant.com/menu...

                2. re: Robert Lauriston
                  m
                  Morton the Mousse

                  They were tough and briney. Definitely did not taste house cured. I think I'm spoiled by the house cured anchovies I get at Pizzaiolo, Zuni and Chez Panisse. As far as I'm concerned, any lesser anchovy is not worth eating. I figured as this was a sea food place they would cure anchovies in house, guess not.

                  I noticed the good draft beer, but I was there for lunch.

                  1. re: Morton the Mousse
                    b
                    Boquerones Fan

                    I find it difficult to trust the culinary assessment (no matter how many caesars you eat) of somebody who confuses salt-cured anchovies with the firm, vinegar-based pickled Spanish-style anchovies (boquerones) that adorn the caesar at Sea Salt (or the canapes at Cesar, for that matter).

                    Perhaps you should understand that just because you don't like something, or it was not what you were expecting, that doesn't meant that that thing is inherently "bad."

                    1. re: Boquerones Fan

                      "Perhaps you should understand that just because you don't like something, or it was not what you were expecting, that doesn't meant that that thing is inherently 'bad.'"

                      Well said that man. I didn't care for the sardines, either the texture or the flavor, but all around me others were scarfing them down with every evidence of pleasure. Don't think they were bad, just I didn't like them.

                      Boy, that clam chowder, though. I'll center my next meal around it.

                3. re: Morton the Mousse

                  It's funny, I felt that way the first time I went to Fonda, but then the second time I loved them and the third time I was craving their guac and chips. I do feel they are expensive, but their ingredients are so fresh! So, I love Fonda and I really enjoyed Seasalt the first time I went there and would go back. Lalimes I loved the first time (years ago) but the last time I went I was not impressed. I like the space, but the service was pretty inept and the food just didn't excite me.

                  1. re: LizK
                    r
                    Robert Lauriston

                    I find Fonda expensive, except after 9:30 there aren't many places around where you can get good food and good wine in a nice atmosphere. For that it's #2 after A Cote, but there's never a wait at Fonda.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I can understand that. I still haven't been to A Cote. Fonda is also open at 4 on weekends which another time when it's difficult to find food.

                  2. re: Morton the Mousse

                    How do you feel about Lalimes?

                    1. re: sydthekyd
                      m
                      Morton the Mousse

                      Haven't been to Lalimes. After trying the other 4, I'm not about to drop $$$$ on the Krikorians.

                      1. re: Morton the Mousse

                        Call and ask what night Stacy is working. Sit at the bar. Tell her what you like. Fois gras is often on the menu. She is really honest about what to eat, but you need to break the code as in ... "How is the xxx?" ... If she says "The xxx is good, but I like" don't order the xxx.

                        After all these years, she has yet to shake her head and say don't order it ... after all they pay her salary. However, I've found I've always been disappointed in xxx if it is phrased as such.

                        IMO, Lalime's is the best of the group and totally different from the small plate format of the other places. After Chez Panisse it is my Berkeley fav so far, but again, know Stacey 10 years and haven't tried everything in the area yet.

                        Link: http://www.lalimes.com/

                      2. re: sydthekyd
                        e
                        Eileen Pearl

                        I had dinner at Lalime's on Friday night and it was the first time I had a less than perfect experience there. It's in my neighborhood so I've eaten there a dozen times or so. The appretizers (stuffed poblano chile & goat cheese/walnut salad) were really good but small. My husband had the beef filet and I had sea bass as entrees. Both entrees were good (but again pretty small) but the side dishes (mushrooms, squash puree, potatoes) were only lukewarm as if they had been plated and sitting waiting for the grilled food to be put on the plate. So they had to take the plates back and reheat; not that big of a deal. The thing I like about the folks there is that they are genuinely nice and immediately raced over and refilled our wine glasses and we only waited a very short time while they made our plates right. I appreciated the way they cared about making things better. Also, they didn't charge us for dessert.

                        The one thing I find odd is that in the past, their "all you can eat ribs dinners" were so much better than what is currently being offered at T-Rex. I wonder why?

                        1. re: sydthekyd
                          e
                          Eileen Pearl

                          I had dinner at Lalime's on Friday night and it was the first time I had a less than perfect experience there. It's in my neighborhood so I've eaten there a dozen times or so. The appretizers (stuffed poblano chile & goat cheese/walnut salad) were really good but small. My husband had the beef filet and I had sea bass as entrees. Both entrees were good (but again pretty small) but the side dishes (mushrooms, squash puree, potatoes) were only lukewarm as if they had been plated and sitting waiting for the grilled food to be put on the plate. So they had to take the plates back and reheat; not that big of a deal. The thing I like about the folks there is that they are genuinely nice and immediately raced over and refilled our wine glasses and we only waited a very short time while they made our plates right. I apprecaited that. Also, they didn't charge us for dessert.

                          The one thing I find odd is that in the past, their "all you can eat ribs dinners" were so much better than what is currently being offered at T-Rex. I wonder why?

                          1. re: Eileen Pearl
                            r
                            Robert Lauriston

                            For one thing, they didn't have the fancy smoker when they made ribs at Lalime's.

                          2. re: sydthekyd

                            I want to like Lalime's better than I do. And it's not that I've had bad experiences there, it's just that they've been ... uninspiring. For one thing, it's one of those places where the appetizers are much more appealing than the entrees, at least to me. In fact, when I was there a month ago I ordered two appetizers/small plates instead of an app and an entree (one was the pizzetta, which is definitely too big to be an appetizer for one). I will say I enjoyed every morsel of the foie gras, but the pizzetta would have benefitted from another minute or two in the oven. In retrospect, I should have sent it back.

                            My family likes Lalime's a lot, though (I think my sister and her husband are a bit sentimental about it, since their catering branch catered their wedding), and since they're picking up the check, I'm resigned to eating there occasionally.

                        2. I ate at Sea Salt today for lunch. Color me unimpressed. The food is not cheap - I
                          believe a small bowl of chowder cost $8-9. The chowder was okay, not
                          great. It was a little shy on clams and on flavor. My oyster po' boy was around $16 and was dinky - four small oysters - so small they looked a little lost even in the short roll they were in. The po' boy was very tasty, but almost tapas-sized. For that kind of money the oyster po"boy at Andrew Jaeger's in SF is probably over twice the size. (full disclosure - I'm a musician who has occasionally worked at Jaeger's). The potato chips were good, though.

                          I was with my mom, and she had the mussels. There wasn't enough broth, and the mussels were dry. The broth lacked flavor, as did the mussels themselves.

                          Oh yeah, some of the oysters were $2 each, some were $3. $3 seemed pretty high - hell, a dozen oysters could easily run you almost $40 at that rate.

                          We got there around 11:30 AM and they hadn't heated the place up yet. It was really freakin' cold in there - something many patrons commented on.

                          The waitress checked in on us early on to see if we had two spoons for the chowder and never dealt with us again - despite my mentioning I might want to order a beer during the meal.

                          So, service was a little lacking, the food was really uninspired, the place was uncomfortable, and the meal came to over $39 for the two of us before tip - for a lunch with no alcohol or specialty drinks.

                          I don't plan on going back. For that kind of money I'll go to Swan's Oyster Depot in SF or Andrew Jaeger's and eat better. I wish there was something like Swan's in the East Bay.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Kurt
                            m
                            Morton the Mousse

                            Have you tried Pearl?

                            pearloncollege.com

                          2. I thought the lobster roll was tasteless. Have you ever had one at Yankee Pier, or the Raw Bar in Healdsburg? Sea Salt is over priced and over praised. I've been there three times because some friends wanted to try it, but one friend's fried mixed seafood was raw and cold in the middle, and the other had a salad that was missing 2 of the ingredients listed on the menu. The waitress said, "The chef ran out" Duh! Well HE should have..

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Nojones

                              Have you had the lobster roll at Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City or its other restaurant in SF - North Point Lobster Shack. Puts Yankee Pier to shame. Recent good reports about the lobster roll at Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay. I don't think the lobster roll at Sea Salt is the best thing they do either. It was fine, but not what I'm looking for in a lobster roll.

                            2. New dish on the menu last night, heirloom tomato salad with pickled onions, pepper (?) sprouts, pumpkin seeds, and a sauce of ground pumpkin seeds, habaneros, and some other chile. The waitress said it was a Mayan recipe, sounded like she said "sil pac." Looking online maybe she said xni pec. $10 seemed steep but it was twice as much as I expected. Also had a very nice sauteed / pan-fried halibut with fresh black-eyed peas, pork rillons, and black-pepper aioli, $24.

                              The menu's been reorganized and expanded. Larger selection of raw stuff, more sandwiches, three cheeses, and as noted elsewhere, full bar. Also, they've replaced the benches in the original room with comfortable chairs.

                              http://www.seasaltrestaurant.com/menu/

                              -----
                              Sea Salt
                              2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Had a similar halibut dish a few weeks ago but without black eyed peas and it was one of the best fish dishes I've ever had. I happpen to be a big fan of their monkfish liver torchon as well.