Sunday night I had the chance to return to Flaherty’s Seafood Grill on someone else’s dime as part of a large family group. The person in charge of organizing the outing was happy and rather surprised to be able to bring a big group here on short notice. The reason is easy to see: Locals know to stay away or stick to ordering at the oyster bar next door.
The staff’s friendly and helpful as can be. But the smell of old oil hanging heavy in the air was an unpleasant welcome stepping inside and a warning that a simple order of fish and chips, my usual way of dealing with unknown or bad seafood cooks, would be poor strategy here.
The fried calamari appetizer, rings and tentacles, reeked of bad oil besides being overdone and greasy, more proof to not order anything from the fryer. The fire-roasted artichoke was not bad, but the bed of coleslaw dripped with an excess of mayo. These appetizers were free with this coupon from the restaurant’s website. But they’re not really “free”, as the entrees are very overpriced.
From the page-long list of dinner specials that supplements the regular menu, I ordered the Seared diver scallops with crab risotto, ~$27. The risotto had the overcooked mushy texture of gruel and tasted more of butter and mushrooms than crab. A bit of dried out crab floss decorated the side of the plate. I explained the mush problem to my server who said she’d ask for a redo. She also asked if I’d like to enjoy the scallops in the mean time, so I scraped them onto my bread plate. Cutting into one to try, I discovered that the center was ice-cold and the scallop tasted metallic and less than fresh. Pretty crazy that an entrée with that kind of price can have so many problems! When she returned from conferring with the kitchen, she explained that I would be better off ordering something else and suggested the crab linguine.
Since the crab meat supply seemed to be overcooked (and I’d also witnessed the mess served as Crab Louie here), I opted for clam linguine, ~$17, instead. The clams themselves were fine, plump and briny, though missing the sweetness of the freshest bivalves. The linguine had the gummy texture of par-cooked pasta and was topped with some diced tomatoes, scallions, and lots of garlic in a tasty white wine-butter brothy sauce.
While waiting for my pasta, I had a taste of the seafood paella that featured more mushy rice, the Linguine con pescatore with an insipid and watery tomato-based sauce, and an overcooked but well-salted French fry that picked up a bitter and scorched off-note from the degraded cooking oil. I declined a sample of the Crab Louie plated as wisps of crab folded into the dressing looking more like sandwich spread than the whole pieces of crab leg meat of better versions. For the prices charged here, one can eat much better at Massaro & Santos that serves tastier food in a similar old school style and has a parking lot and an ocean view.
The best part of this meal was the company of family at Christmas time. Also enjoyable were the 2011 Frogs Leap Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc (half-bottle) and the seeded whole wheat raisin bread in the basket.
My husband and I go to Flahery's every time we visit Carmel, which is about twice a year. this time we have our 5 yr old in tow, so we were pleased to see the rainbow colored raviolis on the menu. PS My son thought "these are off the hook". I love the calamari, my husband loves the chowder, halibut, sand dabs, oysters...let's just say he loves the place as do I. We try to go when it's "down time for restaurants". ie. 2-4:30ish. They do have a very elegant dinner dining, and a somewhat cas dining on the oyster bar side....I send KUDOS!!!!