Although this isnt exactly high praise, out of all the restaurants in this area that touch the water ... Dead Fish, Nantucket, The Front Room, Salute, the Sardine Can ... The Waterfront has the best food. While not fancy, the food was decent and really a good value. It was good enough that I may go back later this week and give the salmon a try.
Entering the restaurant there are two fish tanks, one with live lobsters and the other with live crabs. This is a waterfront shack that is similar in décor to The Nantucket.
Stuck in rush hour traffic on San Pablo Road in Hercules (sheesh), they let me order the early bird special even though it was a little after the cut-off time.
The house made clam chowder, while not outstanding, was fine. It had large chunks of potatoes, some fresh scallions and while it wasnt packed with clams there were enough chopped clams in there to make it identifiable as clam chowder. Slightly thickened with flour, it had a sour cream tang to it. It came with a package of Keebler oyster crackers.
The sautéed mushrooms in garlic and wine sauce was a huge dish of sliced mushrooms and a good value for $3.95. The wine sauce could have been reduced a bit more, but it was still tasty.
The snapper was a good sized piece and surprisingly, very fresh and perfectly cooked. The wine sauce was ok and there must have been a half a bottle of capers. Sauce and capers were easy to ignore. The side with this was a huge ... huge dish of spaghetti with a chunky tomato sauce. Sprinkled with fresh parsley and a Kraft-like parmesan cheese, this was good in its simplicity. I actually took it home for a future meal and I dont do that often with pasta.
The dinner rolls skip them straight from a plastic bag and squished.
This is a full bar, but wine, while reasonable ($15 - $25 a bottle), was of the Beringer, Sutter Home, Korbel,and Lindemans variety. The house wine, currently R.H. Phillips merlot, was actually very pleasant.
I didnt have any, but desserts are cheesecake, tiramisu, mousse and ice cream.
Service (on a Tuesday night) was of the waterfront shack variety ... nothing fancy and functional. My server was very young and when I asked if the bar had port, he didnt know what port was.
There are chickens and peacocks running around outside the restaurant. I asked the server if they were for future dinners and he said a woman who lives near by owns them and the restaurant had a long time policy of allowing them to visit the grounds.
There is a bar area with a small stage for live music on the week-ends. Somewhere there was a pool table because I could hear a game going on. There was a dart board near the stage. A small wood-paneled dining room lined with white Christmas lights, had tables with white tablecloths and red napkins.
There is a large outdoor deck with Formica tables and green plastic chairs. Along the length of the deck is a green vinyl banquette which at one time must have had tables with chairs.
The restaurant overlooks San Pablo Bay and is right across from the Conoco-Phillips refinery. The tide was out and hundreds of shorebirds raced across the mud flats having their own version of dinner. It is a major wetland area. A flock of huge geese (they were at the very least two feet tall) landed for a rest. Some ducks glided on the calm bay and two sea lions were playing in the distant water. Two scrawny cats stalked the birds from the shore, but were discouraged by the muddy bay bottom. The chickens out front looked fierce, so I guess the cats werent going to bother with them.
Tugboats guided a huge oil tanker to the refinery wharves. There was quite a bit of boat traffic in the bay in addition to trains rumbling by occasionally, their horns echoing across the water. Rusty pilings and rotting wooden piers decorate the bay.
Fifty percent of the view was of the refinery. Once the sun sets, the oil tanks disappear in the dark and hundreds of lights on the refinery shine looking like a phantom city that will vanish with the dawn. Even the tanker was invisible at night only its lights shimmering on the calm water. After dark the air is filled with the sounds of many birds.
It is an odd almost ironic alliance, the wild wetlands coexisting with the oil industry. On this warm night, it was a pleasant place to watch the sun set on San Pablo Bay and another year of my life.
The website says the restaurant is under new ownership. However, it also says brunch is served on Sunday. No Sunday brunch.