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Restaurants & Bars 5

Pier 39 Food Hell - Crab House

Stanley Stephan | Apr 12, 200312:17 AM

They are owned by the Stinking Rose people. Do I need to go on?

Yes, yes I do. I need to get my money's worth of whining. You CAN ruin a simple piece of grilled salmon.

Inspired by some tasty chow at Eagle Cafe and a beautiful day, I thought I would give a few of the other restaurants a try. All the bad things we think about that area are all too true.

The meal started with a mini baguette of bread in a paper bag ala Acme. The problem was the taste was ala Safeway.

There was a brown harsh acidic vinegar for dipping (it could NOT have been balsamic) that I would have thrown out if I bought it at the supermarket. I always wondered if vinegar could go bad. I guess so. The olive oil was crude.

I was cringing watching an out of town family pour a soup bowl full of that wretched oil and then down with gusto chunks of black vinegar soaked bread. Just how bad IS the food elsewehere in the country? I wanted to shout "No, no, the food is SO much better elsewhere in SF".

I will say, the wine is reasonable and the portions are generous ... almost twice the size of a normal serving. I think the ploy is to get you too drunk to notice the food.

I had the crab chowder which was mediocre. A thin broth, generous amounts of crab, canned corn ... I was asked if I wanted pepper, and some Schilling quality pepper was ground out of a pepper mill.

I'm not a big Dungeness fan anyway and since the chowder was so uninspiring, I decided to pass on the roast crab.

I asked if the salmon was fresh. The waiter said "Today it is". It was stretching the truth.

Besides The Stinking Rose, these people own Calzone and The Dead Fish in Crokett. I KNEW I had a dead fish on my plate.

It was really fishy with what turned out to be a ginger glaze, though I never would have guessed it. It was just a hard glaze. I'm cutting the starch, so I passed on the pasta and just had the vegetables which were drowned and over cooked in olive oil. There were some peppers, eggplant and other veggies cooked beyond recognition.

By now I'm drinking heavily to drown on the experience. I figure, what the heck, the diet's shot with the wine, let's try that tiramisu. Again, think Safeway. Actually, it's an insult to Safeway.

They have a prix fixe menu, but I really don't think it saves you a dime. In fact, with the wrong choices, I think you would spend more than ordering ala carte.

The staff was really pleasant. The views, of course, glorious.

There was one thing that DID look good. It was mussels on an iron skillet. There is this huge square cast iron looking plate with the mussels sitting on top.

The people enjoying the bread also ordered the crab enchiladas which looked lurid.

As I walked out the door, some people were eyeing the menu. I just looked at them and said "Don't do it".

It was low tide and the sea lions were less than charming with a strong "eau de sea lion". You wouldn'nt think that animals that spent that much time in the water could smell that bad. One tot turned to his mom while waving his hand before his nose and shouted, "Mommy, the sea lions are (passing wind)".

The boat at the dock nearest the sea lions was for the Neptune Society. It had a cheery sign on it proclaiming "scatterings at sea". I walked back to my car as one of the street performers played "I left my heart in SF".

Well, every day can't be perfect, eh?



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