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First Peak: New England Style Seafood Shack Finally Available in LA: BP Oysterette in Santa Monica

w
wasabica Sep 7, 2009 01:04 PM

My biggest shock in moving out to LA was the complete lack of casual seafood shacks like one finds on the Jersey Shore, Cape Cod, Baltimore, etc. Gladstones, with it's low quality, poorly prepared, overpriced fare never counted.

I read about this place some months ago and have been anxiously awaiting its opening, which occurred earlier this week. We opted to get there on Saturday at 11:30 AM right when it opened for lunch so that we could avoid a long wait. (They do not take reservations.)

We feasted on amazing oysters and clams on the half shell (they offer four varieties), grilled oysters, authentic steamers and broth, and a beautifully-buttered succulent lobster roll.

We look forward to going back another time to also try the ceviche, chowder, fisherman's stew, crudo, and fish tacos.

All-in-all, great food, decent wine list, excellent and friendly service, and fair prices. Salvadore, the manager, gave us hints of what is coming in the future once they get things going. Most notable on the list for me is Ipswich clams, yay!! We also asked him why the salmon, which was the daily crudo offering that day, was farmed Atlantic when clearly all the other fish was better sourced and of much higher quality. He blamed it on convenience and ease for their early stages, and indicated it was his intent to procure wild down the line. He is still getting organized with his fish suppliers as he does not have enough room in the restaurant to meet the oyster demand. He is already getting two shipments a day.

This place is a gold mine. THey are working on some logistics so that people can put their name on a list and hit the promenade. But for now, try to go during an off hour (I am not sure when that will be) so the wait is not too excessive. But don't let the wait deter you - it's worth it.

Please visit my blog for food pix as well as pictures of the menus with pricing.

http://foodandwineblog.thefoodietrave...

  1. b
    Bite Me Oct 16, 2009 05:01 AM

    We wer there this past week. We got there late after the main dinner crowd - almost 9 p.m. - and it was a good time to get a table. Service friendly and attentive. A young gentleman appeared to be a GM or owner and checked on us, as well as otherrs. He was very friendly. I had a white burgandy from France that was delicious, but my husband thought it was a small pour. Then, I had the butter lettuce salad, with gorgonzola cheese and toasted shallots. It was good but it was too large. It was enough for three people! Don't get me wrong - I ate it all and Hermien Lee in heaven would be smiling down. The lettuce was fresh but it didn't "pop" with that market fresh flavor like the butter lettuce at Annisette. Then i had wild salmon, grilled, with a checca sauce on the side, and that was fabulous. The fish was good, not to die for.

    My husband had excellent oysters from BC- check something. They were served with two sauces - a cocktail sauce, which he said needed a little tabasco, and a vinegar sauce which was fine. Good mixture. The oysters were really nice - perfectly briney.

    Then, he had steamed clams that come with the tails on them. It was a little bit of work to take off the tails. Large quantity. The broth was good - more garlicy than traditional, but my husband loves garlic, so he was happy. They served them with butter on the side, but he did not use the butter. He said that the broth was rich enough and did not require enhancements.

    He had the clam chowder and said that it was good. It was served in an oversized bowl, which was not traditional, but ok. It was not thickened.

    Overall, we enjoyed the vibe of the restaurant, especially for the oysters. Their fried seafood is with corn batter and we're curious to try fried oystsers. Maybe next time we would try Oyster rockefeller.

    We also liked the decor but one observation about the flat screen. It should not have been mounted on a background that was vertical stripes. A little hard to watch that way. But they were showing very cool vintage surfing videos.

    The oysters were the star attraction but everything was good.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bite Me
      b
      Bite Me Oct 16, 2009 05:05 AM

      Forgot to mention the mac n cheese. Delicious! Light and creamy at the same time, made with shell pasta and bacon bits on top.

      1. re: Bite Me
        Phurstluv Oct 16, 2009 10:51 AM

        What do you mean by "clams with tails on them"? Clams don't have tails. Do you mean the necks?

        1. re: Bite Me
          Mr Taster Oct 16, 2009 02:56 PM

          It's really exciting to hear that they're offering the traditional non-thickened, cream based clam chowder, which is difficult to find even in New England these days.

          What about the lobster roll? Are they the local spiny lobsters or are they from Maine? Traditional top split bun?

          Mr Taster

        2. dotrat Sep 19, 2009 04:17 PM

          I tried this place last night and as much as I hope that it was spot on I'm sorry to say I found it to be mediocre at best. I suppose they weren't going for a real traditional lobster or clam shack here but i definitely prefer traditional when it comes to this kind of food. My friend and I started with the steamer clams. They arrived in a bowl & had been steamed with garlic & parsley. Traditionally steamer clams are served with some steaming liquid & drawn butter on the side. This way once you removed the sandy inner membrane of the steamer clam you rinse off the sand, dip it in butter & enjoy. Blue Plates version left my hands garlicy & my clams sandy. I didn't enjoy it at all. Not only was it poorly executed but the garlic also overwhelmed the flavor of the steamers and it seemed more Italian than New England fare. We also had the butter lettuce salad with gorgonzola which was lovely & the highlight of our meal. Unfortunately our next two items arrived to the table before we had a chance to really dig into our first but we rolled with it. Our last two items included the lobster roll & grilled oysters. I liked the grilled oysters but didn't love them. There just wasn't a wow factor. The lobster roll didn't appeal to me at all. As others have said it is loaded in lemon zest & lord knows what which really overwhelms from the flavor of the lobster. The roll, although the right style bun, didn't have the flavor of toasted buttery goodness I associate with a lobster roll. I didn't necessarily find the lobster roll small but I did feel that the meat was chopped up too finely. I admit that since I was born & raised in Boston I am probably less willing to experiment with these kinds of recipes as other might be. And if you are a New Englander looking for a trip to someplace nostalgic you will be sorely disappointed.

          1. johnnyshungry Sep 18, 2009 04:50 PM

            paid a visit around 6:30 -7 this week and really wanted to see the damage but our diner companion insisted on picking up the ck.
            Oysters were good as well as the ceviche. Fish tacos were liked although I did not taste them also had the mac -n-cheese and any mac-n-cheese is fine by me.
            Service was very good,wine rec went well and thats always a plus, sat outside watching the sunset and have no complaints. Heading back on mon. since I will be in that area.
            Since ocean ave. seafood is across the street happy hour oyster's were also had. prefer the vibe of BP all in all a good exp.

            1. r
              rameniac Sep 17, 2009 11:13 AM

              i've been away from CH for a while, but i can always count on you guys to come up with something new and hot when i drop in. hungry cat has been as close as i could come up with for new englandy-seafood, ever since menemsha closed. this looks like it could be a real winner. thanks wasabica!

              2 Replies
              1. re: rameniac
                w
                wasabica Sep 18, 2009 08:37 AM

                Hi Rameniac, I read your posts a lot - I think you would like the restaurant. Keep it simple, though. This is not the place to get fish and chips. Keep to their specialty - oysters, clams, lobster roll, etc. Also, I recommend their brown rice - listed as a side on the menu. It is a nice healthy filler. I didn't mention it earlier as it is not a typical thing one gets at a seafood shack and I don't think many people are moved by rice, but I am personally very into excellent rice and I think they do a great job with it.

                1. re: rameniac
                  Servorg Oct 16, 2009 08:16 AM

                  The less it is like Menemsha the better it will be and do.

                2. jonahlee Sep 16, 2009 10:43 AM

                  Thanks for the review, going to have to try it out next time I make it to Santa Monica.

                  I think the worst thing about moving away from Hollywood was leaving the Hungry Cat there, and so another good seafood place is right up my alley.

                  1. liu Sep 15, 2009 07:45 PM

                    We went this past Saturday afternoon (off hours) for a dozen oysters at the bar. The service was very friendly, but as others have pointed out, the staff did not seem to be operating smoothly. There were a lot of servers and cooks in the kitchen, but some were looking quite new to the job...movement without purpose.

                    Our oysters were opened by one of the more seasoned cooks who seemed to be quite adept at the process. A helper assisted her and didn't seem very skilled; I found out exactly how unskilled he was when I slurped a lot of shell with my oysters.

                    We requested a mixed dozen: three each of four different kinds, and our server was willingly accommodating. However, nothing else was served with the oysters...bread would have been nice. Our bill with one beer was just under $40...a little high considering there were no accompaniments.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: liu
                      l
                      lizziee Sep 16, 2009 10:05 AM

                      Ask for oyster crackers - delicious with their homemade cocktail sauce

                      1. re: lizziee
                        liu Sep 16, 2009 10:25 AM

                        I did see the large supply of oyster crackers on the inside counter, but we were having an afternoon snack and I didn't want to ask, nor did I want the extra carbs. I could make a meal of oyster crackers dipped in cocktail sauce...skip the oysters!

                        It would have been a nice touch...without the extra effort to request them. For me, it was more about the presentation, and the oysters seemed a bit naked without something else.

                      2. re: liu
                        creamfinger Sep 16, 2009 03:12 PM

                        $40 for a dozen oysters and one beer? That seems awfully expensive.

                        1. re: creamfinger
                          liu Sep 16, 2009 04:04 PM

                          hi, creamfinger!
                          If I remember, the beer was about $8.00 and the oysters were $2.25 each.
                          It was a pleasant stop in the middle of the day, but so are a lot of other, more reasonable places.

                      3. b
                        banquisha Sep 15, 2009 04:49 PM

                        Went Sunday and had the chowder and fish n chips. The potato in the chowder wasn't cooked enough... still hard and, the broth was not very flavorful, just sort of bland. It definitely needed more time in the pot to develop more flavor and cook through as well. The fish n chips were less than stellar... the fish was soggy. It was really sad :( the fries were ok... nothing spectacular. The people there are really nice and I enjoyed my view of Ocean Ave. while I dined there but, for the kind of money they charge, I think I will go elsewhere in the area for lunch next time.

                        1. j
                          Jerome Sep 11, 2009 06:08 PM

                          dont' know if this is a shack exactly. also, sounds like they are preparing food that you miss which is great.

                          I like Quality Seafood in Redondo Beach on the int'l boardwalk. Order a dungenss live, or a santa barbara crab, live - dungeness is more expensive and you'll see why - so sweet. Get some ahi poke or a live sea urchin, - big selection of oysters and clams and other shellfish as well as finfish that can be grilled to order. And relatively reasonably priced.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Jerome
                            kushnerom Sep 11, 2009 10:33 PM

                            Quality Seafood looks so shady when I pass by there... but intriguing at the same time. Although the place itself is dirty looking, the fish and crabs actually look fresh. And now that I've been reading more and more good things about the quality, I'll have to suck it up and check it out. Do they cook on their premises?

                            http://talk.2itch.com

                            1. re: kushnerom
                              j
                              Jerome Sep 11, 2009 11:52 PM

                              yes they do. they steam the crabs to order.

                              ALso - there's fisherman's outlet downtown - very fresh near the wholesale fish markets.
                              http://www.fishermansoutlet.net/Homep...

                              1. re: Jerome
                                kushnerom Sep 16, 2009 11:51 PM

                                Thanks for the tip, Jerome.... I will have to check those two out. I'm always looking for reasonable fresh fish (which is often hard to find!)

                                http://talk.2itch.com

                            2. re: Jerome
                              z
                              ZoeZ Sep 14, 2009 05:18 PM

                              Great place to go for Saturday lunch - not very crowded (like Sunday). Its heaven to eat by the sea on a table covered with paper and making a glorious mess that you don't have to clean up - we usually get an assortment of a dozen or so kinds of oysters plus the poke and crab. And concur that its very reasonable (terrific for out of town guests - always impresses)

                              1. re: ZoeZ
                                l
                                lizziee Sep 15, 2009 01:58 AM

                                If you go early on Sunday not that crowded. My husband had the fish tacos and loved them. I ordered 6 fried oysters and they were excellent. Started with raw oysters and clams - fun place.

                              2. re: Jerome
                                t
                                TomSwift Sep 16, 2009 10:46 AM

                                We've been going to QS once a month for the past 8 years (getting hair cut in Redondo) and for fresh seafood it can't be beat. At least 25 varieties of oysters live in the salt water tanks, we always have several live uni, the fried silver smelt is delicious, and Saji will make sashimi (usually salmon and squid) upon request. I find many of their fried foods to be a bit greasy, and unfortunately their fried clams (while not greasy at all) are strips, not bellies. It really pays to wait for your food to be cooked to order rather than getting it from the steam cabinet. It's one of the few places where you can get a live spiny lobster in season. Their prices are significantly higher for Dungeness and Maine lobster than, say, 99 Ranch, but they will cook for you. Their smoked fish is very good. Highly recommended.

                              3. kushnerom Sep 8, 2009 10:20 PM

                                Thanks W. for the post! It is really hard to find good seafood around LA... You would think since we are on the coast, we would have access to some decently fresh seafood, but we all know that's not true. I ate at a place in Boston's Little Italy that was similar in decor to this (although it was more of an oyster bar), so I would like to try it out. I'll be sure to give it some time so that they can get their bearings.

                                http://talk.2itch.com

                                1. b
                                  bulavinaka Sep 8, 2009 10:04 PM

                                  Does anyone know where they're sourcing their oysters other than BC? And is BC British Columbia or Baja California?

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: bulavinaka
                                    n
                                    New Trial Sep 9, 2009 12:36 AM

                                    When I was there, they had Luna's from San Diego (Carlsbad) and Bahia Falsa from Baja in addition to 2 or 3 varieties from British Columbia. I also vaguely recollect seeing Hood Canal on the chalkboard but might be thinking of another meal elsewhere.

                                    1. re: bulavinaka
                                      n
                                      New Trial Sep 9, 2009 12:49 AM

                                      Yes, cinzia, but I am sure that included french fries! You have to love the juxtaposition of a name like "Mary's Fish Camp" with prices at that level; kind of reminds me of the "Hobo" steak at Chasen's.

                                      1. re: New Trial
                                        cinzia Sep 9, 2009 03:38 PM

                                        You are right, it did include fries, ha ha! Keep in mind that it's in the lovely (and pricey) West Village of NYC. They are all expats from the Pearl Oyster Bar. It was far too hot/humid for me to have a mayo based sammy like that but the food I did have was really great.

                                      2. re: bulavinaka
                                        e
                                        ericat Sep 9, 2009 10:48 AM

                                        British columbia was what I meant but they did have some oysters from mexico. Also confirm that they had hood canal oysters (washington state i believe). It turned out to be 40 pp for lunch (incl tip, no alcohol) and we weren't entirely full (crab dip is small, and oysters aren't that filling) which is why I thought that it was a bit pricey for lunch.

                                        1. re: bulavinaka
                                          b
                                          bulavinaka Sep 9, 2009 07:15 PM

                                          Thanks all for the clarification and added info...

                                          1. re: bulavinaka
                                            l
                                            lizziee Sep 9, 2009 07:22 PM

                                            Posting about a 5 day old restaurant is basically unfair – every restaurant has tweaks to work out, service issues to refine, suppliers to be locked in and a hundred other details that need to be addressed. But as a Bostonian, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try out a New England style Seafood Shack.

                                            We brought our own wine - corkage is $10.00

                                            Oysters on the half shell with homemade cocktail sauce and mignonette – Lunas (San Diego), Bahia Falsa (Baha), Fanny Bay (British Columbia) and Metcalf Bay (British Columbia) – Other than the Fanny Bay, the oysters were good. As for the Fanny Bay, they were non-existent and shouldn’t have been served. To the restaurant’s credit we were given 4 oysters of our choice to replace the Fanny Bay.

                                            In terms of sourcing, I would say that Bouchon’s oysters (Yountville) Neptune’s oysters (Boston) are superior, but again they have been in business a long time and as such have established a major relationship with their sources.

                                            Clam Chowder, cherrystone clams, light cream broth – My husband likes very thick chowder so he wasn’t in love with this. He doesn’t even like Neptune’s chowder because he thinks it is too thin. (My feeling – take it as a personal preference).

                                            Fried Seafood Combo – Calamari, Oysters, Shrimp – the seafood was cornmeal crusted --- 3 oysters, 2 shrimp and mostly calamari. I started major begging with Salvador, the GM, to add Ipswich clams to the menu. I even brought my photo of Neptune’s clams to help with my plea. The fried Oysters were perfect and I decided to have 4 extra. Next time I think I would just order fried oysters until they get clams.

                                            The Big Dog – all natural 1/2 pound Kobe Beef dog, sauerkraut, homemade pickles, slaw – My husband loved it, ate half and is eating the other half watching the Dodgers.

                                            Bottom line – we will definitely go back. One caveat – do not park in the lot next to the restaurant – exorbitant – just find a public parking lot only a block away and save a lot of money.

                                            Pics here:
                                            http://lizziee.wordpress.com/category...

                                            1. re: lizziee
                                              b
                                              bulavinaka Sep 9, 2009 07:27 PM

                                              What did I say???

                                              1. re: lizziee
                                                cinzia Sep 11, 2009 04:11 PM

                                                Are you kiding me? There are posts for opening days and previews and soft-openings. It's all part of the game and fair game. Now, would I personally head to a restaurant opening week - well, the last time I did was a year ago at Animal and it was (and still is) fantastic! But I usually avoid the throngs and let things settle in. Regardless, I want to know what other CH'ers experiences were and wholly appreciate hearing from them...and you, thank you for your review!

                                                1. re: lizziee
                                                  Mr Taster Sep 16, 2009 11:22 AM

                                                  In New England, a thin cream based clam chowder is considered the traditional preparation, and it is not thickened at all. However this type of soup is very difficult to keep in large vats for long periods of time because the dairy can scorch. That's why the vast majority of places serving chowder use the flour thickened method, and in fact it's what most people expect now even when visiting Boston, and the restaurants are largely obliging the tourists. My wife and I just returned from a trip to Boston where we had the cream chowder soup at Kelly's in Revere Beach, and it was heavenly.... much thinner than expected but full of lovely delicate clam flavor, and full of HUGE clam bellies (one was a good inch and a half long). How does this compare with BP Seafood's version?

                                                  Mr Taster

                                            2. l
                                              loveagoodmeal Sep 8, 2009 09:54 PM

                                              Hopefully Blue Plate Oysterette is just working out the kinks (or else stick to the oysters) because the lobster roll was mediocre at best. Besides being overpriced with little lobster, I agree with New Trial it was way too lemony and overwhelmed the lobster. Truly, the best thing about the dish were the chips.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: loveagoodmeal
                                                w
                                                wasabica Sep 9, 2009 09:10 AM

                                                The sandwich contained enough meat to what I estimate to be most of the tail and (1) claw from a small one and a quarter pounder lobster. I have had them with more meat, but it was certainly not a stingy portion. Also, the meat was soft, juicy, and not overcooked. It tasted like it was actually removed from a lobster by hand as opposed to factory processed. It is about the same size as the one from hungry cat, and about the same price at $22. Think about the labor and cost involved to produce something like this. If we were in NE it would be cheaper b/c it would be local, but not that much cheaper. I would not begrudge them the price. Being that the last time I was in Cape Cod (more than 10 years ago) the lobster rolls were much cheaper than $22, I was curious what to expect today. So just for laughs, I checked NE Chow and Google for local lobster roll prices these days, and they look to be $16-$20 on average. $22 for a maine lobster roll in los angeles is perfectly reasonable.

                                                I agree the lemon zest made it not authentic, but it did not bother me.

                                                1. re: wasabica
                                                  k
                                                  kevin Sep 9, 2009 10:31 AM

                                                  can you get it without mayo and just butter and the lemon zest?

                                                  1. re: kevin
                                                    w
                                                    wasabica Sep 9, 2009 10:37 AM

                                                    Not sure. I think it was made to order so that is possible. I will note that it was more buttery than mayo-ey, which probably also makes it less authentic. Mayo was lighter vs hungry cat

                                              2. m
                                                Mateo R Sep 8, 2009 11:58 AM

                                                I like the casual but upscale atmosphere, and I am thrilled to have a place closer than quality seafood to satisfy my soft shell clam (steamer) cravings.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Mateo R
                                                  w
                                                  wasabica Sep 8, 2009 12:53 PM

                                                  I love QS, but that parking lot ambiance never quite did it for me. Plus, no wine. Now if only BP gets live uni... ;)

                                                2. n
                                                  New Trial Sep 7, 2009 03:29 PM

                                                  I thought the clam chowder ($7) was very good (nice shot of clam liquor in the broth) but, while the lobster roll (pricey at $22 if you are used to the shacks but in line with Hungry Cat and Ocean Avenue's prices) was tasty and served on an authentic-style buttered bun, I was a bit put off by the addition of a lot of lemon zest. Looking forward to trying the steamers next and, when they finally arrive, to the Ipswich claims.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: New Trial
                                                    e
                                                    ericat Sep 7, 2009 03:47 PM

                                                    I thought it was pretty good, although a bit pricey. We had half dozen oysters in a half shell from BC, half dozen oysters rockefeller, steamers and crab dip. It is a lovely way to spend a lazy afternoon on the outdoor patio, and there definitely is a lack of similar places in LA. I really miss Pearl's Oyster Bar and Mary's Fish Camp in NY, so this is a decent replacement. Will be back to try the lobster roll.

                                                    1. re: New Trial
                                                      cinzia Sep 8, 2009 03:28 PM

                                                      fyi - a lobster roll in nyc runs $30 as of last week at Mary's Fish Camp!

                                                    2. DiveFan Sep 7, 2009 02:29 PM

                                                      For those of us who aren't clairvoyant, the location is:

                                                      Blue Plate Oysterette
                                                      1355 Ocean Ave.
                                                      Santa Monica, CA 90401
                                                      (310) 576-3474
                                                      - check them out on twitter, web site does not reflect new location yet

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: DiveFan
                                                        w
                                                        wasabica Sep 7, 2009 03:23 PM

                                                        sorry, I meant to include that, thanks!!!

                                                      2. SaltCod Sep 7, 2009 01:59 PM

                                                        This place looks like a "must try" for me, just to get some grilled oysters. Nice selection, although I wish some fried full-belly clams were on the menu. Thanks for the tip!

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: SaltCod
                                                          w
                                                          wasabica Sep 7, 2009 10:59 PM

                                                          He promised the full-bellies were coming soon...

                                                          1. re: SaltCod
                                                            c
                                                            cosimoto Sep 8, 2009 03:18 PM

                                                            Good food, although as others have noted, pretty pricey.

                                                            1. re: cosimoto
                                                              Phurstluv Sep 8, 2009 03:33 PM

                                                              I've looked through their menu, and in that hood, it is definitely NOT pricey.

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