Not so Glad-stone's Long Beach
Well, I know Gladstones does not really get any love on these boards... and I suppose I now know why. It had been years since I've eaten there and had vague recollections of a packed to capacity crowd where people were walking out with their excessive portions in aluminum swans.
Anyhow, I was at the Aquarium of the Pacific and after a day of looking at fish, I guess something subliminal was telling me "Eat fish."
I was with my wife and Baby DrBruin when I realized we didn't have much time before our baby needed to go home. So, it's 4pm, on Friday. We pass by Gladstone's on our way to the Shoreline Village when I spot the chalkboard outside the entrance touting their fresh, sustainably caught fish, and Alaskan Halibut was on the list. Starving, hankering for fish, pressed for time, and relieved there wouldn't be a wait, we went in.
We were sat immediately.
I should have known something was wrong when I ordered an appetizer (Spinach Artichoke Dip) and then 10 minutes later after placing the order, the waitress came to get our entree orders and asked if we wanted the appetizer first. (SHAKING HEAD IN DISBELIEF).
So, food review number 1: Spinach Artichoke Dip: The menu touts "fresh chips." These were chips from a bag made who the heck knows when. These were not fresh chips, they weren't stale though. The dip is served in a glass goblet. I think there is a reason why these dips are traditionally served in opaque ramekins at most places. The dip looked like baby vomit sitting high up in the glass. Total visual turn off. The taste? It wasn't good. There was, I think, a heavy uncooked wine flavor but I can't ID it perfectly.
I order the "Fresh Fish of the Day Alaskan Halibut" grilled with a beurre blanc sauce. My wife ordered the salmon salad. I ordered an add-on bowl of New England style Clam Chowder.
So, the chowder was brought out about 2 minutes after the artichoke dip. Bad pacing. I'm left with two hot things to try to eat before they go cold. Ugh. . Now, the taste of the chowder? One of the worst chowders I've had. It had almost no clams or potatoes. It should have been called BUTTER CHOWDER, since it tasted like melted butter. The soup was "broken" in the sense there was an oil slick. The waitress didn't come by to offer fresh cracked pepper. I'm not sure that would have made a difference, two spoon fulls and I was done with it.
Then, the entrees came. My wife's salad looked like they didn't clean the salad greens that well but my wife didn't complain of grit. She said it tasted okay.
My 32 dollar halibut dish came out. Fresh my "you-know-what." It reeked of ammonia. I sent it back immediately. She offered to have it remade but one piece of turned fish was enough for me. I went with the shrimp scampi. The shrimp were overcooked and rubbery. I was starving and didn't send it back. The scampi sauce was decent and there was plenty of it to get soaked up by the bread, which came later.
Oh, about midway through the entrees, she brought out sourdough bread. It was the best thing we had, which was the case only because it was hot, The bread had a very mild sourdough flavor, border-lining on no sourdough flavor.
Service: C- (A C only because she was nice and ended up taking off the spinach dip and soup off the bill but not any higher because the pacing was off. The minus comes from not having a manager stop by to ask why our meal sucked. Perhaps they already knew what I had to figure out the hard way).
Food: F (for frickin' awful)
Ambiance: B (nice view)
Value: G (because there needs to be a grade lower than the letter F since this place is pricey)
Bottom line: If you're at the Aquarium of the Pacific and you're jonesing for fish, avoid, yes, avoid Gladstones.
I'm not sure what would be an alternative within walking distance of the aquarium... Parker's? I'll tell you that I've only been to Bubba Gump once, and even though the portions were ridiculous(ly small for the price) and I would never go back there, the shrimp were at least cooked properly.
I'm just putting this review out there for people who are searching for places near the Aquarium and aren't familiar with Gladstones.
You're welcome. I think it'd be better if Mariscos Chentes (Coni'seafood) relocated. ;) While I personally like to share the gems, I think it's just as important to share the lumps of coal you come across while eating out, so others can avoid them (or at least eat there with a heads up).
Speaking of Coni'seafood, my coworker swears there's an off the menu item called the Bald Eagle... apparently, it's appallingly spicy shrimp (but that's how she rolls). It's hard for me to find time to get out there with a baby in household to see if there really is this item.
I am sorry that you had to endure that. A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I used to live walking distance from Gladstone's in the Palisades, and I can provide witness that there was a time when, if you ordered carefully, you could have fun and decent food there along with the view. That time is long past.
If you're at the Aquarium and want that seafood-house experience, King's Fish House is downtown, maybe 15 minutes away on foot or by shuttle bus.