I get out to the Palmdale/Lancaster area on weekends, and I always have trouble finding a good place to eat. Well, I'm happy to report I made a chow discovery in the area this weekend. On the recommendation of a buddy, I stopped in to the Blue Marlin West (http://bluemarlinwest.com/ ) in the corner of a small, out of the way strip mall. Apparently, the owner of this place is from a family that runs a popular seafood joint in Alabama, and has been pinning away for years to open a west coast branch. I need (and hope to soon have) several more visits to explore their menu in greater depth, but yesterday's first visit was really promising.
The place is small, maybe 10 tables and five or six booths, casually decorated. Comfortable and not fancy. The menu sports a variety of southern fare, mostly seafood dishes, but also po'boys, salads, burgers and other standards. We ordered fried tilapia and fried butterflied shrimp platters (which come with hush puppies, fries and coleslaw) and then got to talking with the owner, who brought out samples of a couple of other things (crab cakes and New England clam chowder) for us to try. First of all, the fried seafood was excellent. Spicy, but not too, and all very fresh and well prepared. The chowder was excellent, rich, flavorful, and with lots of meat. For me at least, the standout item of the entire meal was the crab cakes, which were phenomenal. Beautifully seasoned, perfectly crisp and brown, with almost a panko type crust. Really, really nice. In fact, I think the crab cakes were some of the best I've tried anywhere. Also, I thought the hush puppies were delicious, and my buddy (a Florida native) pronounced them authentic and very good.
Service throughout was friendly and accommodating, with free samples (as noted) and infinite free beverage refills (we'd been hiking around the desert all morning and were pretty thirsty). Lunch for two came to $30 with tax but without tip.
All-in-all, this place is a hidden gem. If you're in the area and looking for good, reasonably priced, casual seafood, this is it. I'll definitely be back soon, and will report on the gumbo, fried soft-shell crab sandwich, scallop po'boy, and burgers as soon as I try them.