Monday was gorgeous so Mom and I headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for a stroll and lunch. Must be at least 10 years since I last walked on this pier, I think. Nowadays the restaurants having hawkers offering up drink specials, free appetizers and samples of clam chowder. All of them were made in the overthickened, commercial style, but I’m one who rarely passes up a tasting opportunity. I tried the chowders offered and rank them from worst to best.
5) Crabby Jim’s http://www.crabbyjimsmonterey.com/ - Ugh, overcooked and stale tasting with an unnaturally dark, carmelized hue.
4) Abalonetti’s http://www.abalonettimonterey.com/ - Bright white color with bits of bacon, almost fluffy in texture rather than dense, modest clam influence, tasting more of cream, onions and fresh potatoes, clean finish.
3) Old Fisherman’s Grotto http://www.oldfishermansgrotto.com/ - From the Shake family, this tastes the same as the family’s chowder served at The Fishhopper on Cannery Row. Instead of using disposable plastic serving cups, the samples are served in reusable stainless steel condiment cups. Straight forward, direct clam flavor of moderate intensity, too thick but not gluey in texture.
Tie 1) Dominico’s http://www.domenicosmonterey.com/ - Like the Grotto, also served in stainless steel. When I expressed my appreciation for not using disposables, the gentleman said, “We’re real fishermen and have to protect the seas. We try not to overuse plastics.” Brinier than others with more clam flavor and a touch of crab sweetness, mingled with thyme, other herbs and savories. Too salty unfortunately or it would have been the run away winner. More like the Monterey fishermen’s chowder I remember from childhood.
Tie 1) Isabella’s http://www.isabellasonthewharf.com/in... - Also owned by the Shake family. Fuller, deeper clam flavor, tender bits of clam, very buttery, plasticky mouthfeel and mucilaginous texture.