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Santa Monica Seafood: Something Fishy Going On:

At 1000 Wilshire Boulevard, at the corner of 10th Street, there is to be found a relocated fish market cum grocery store cum restaurant called Santa Monica Seafood, and my dining companion, Dale, accompanied me this past Sunday to test the waters of this venue, and dip our culinary ‘toes” into the restaurant section in order to sample a dish or three.This new “store” is large and active and has a very European feel to it, not just because of the ambience but also the fact that many of the grocery items adorning the shelves are of a European and Asian style and origin. Pastas, sauces, a cornucopia of olive oils, and soy condiments galore are on offer, as are many quality wines, but it is the fish that is the main attraction, and the choices are dizzying. The centerpiece display island is huge and offers everything from salmon and sole to cod and calamari, all deliciously shiny and fresh. But it was the “sit down and dine” aspect that we wished to enjoy, so after a 20 minute wait, we were escorted to our table and presented with a couple of menus.Now, the primary feature of dining here is the sleek oyster bar where one can sample a choice selection of individual oysters as well as the rest of the menu, but given that it was evidently immensely popular, the table was to suffice. The menu is short, sharp, and intelligent with starters, soups, crudo, salads, sandwiches, and desserts as well as a trio of breakfast items and options “fresh from the bakery.”We decided to share a soup to start from the choices of New England Clam Chowder (their family recipe with ocean clams, onions, celery, potatoes, and cream (no bacon) – $3 for a cup or $6 a bowl), Manhattan Clam Chowder (chopped ocean clams, celery, potatoes, carrots, plum tomatoes, basil, oregano, and fennel (no bacon) – $3 for a cup or $6 a bowl) or the Fish Chowder (an assortment of select fish and shellfish in a tomato broth with potatoes, corn, and onions – $3 for a cup or $6 a bowl). We had originally favored the Fish Chowder, but that compilation must have drowned as it was “unavailable” so we went for the New England Clam Chowder, and there was no disappointment with that choice at all. The “cup” was more of a mug, and filled with quite the most delicious chowder that either of us had ever enjoyed. Rich, creamy, and wholesome, and, as Dale commented, it contained genuine Long Island Littleneck Clams. For the main course Dale was inclined toward the Cioppino (a classic Italian dish with clams, mussels, fish, shrimp, and calamari in a spicy tomato broth and served with grilled ciabatta bread, $12). I opted for a different kettle of fish completely and, after scanning the menu, settled upon their Spicy Salmon Burger (grilled spicy salmon burger on a potato dill Kaiser bun with organic greens, cucumber, tomato, and gremolata mayonnaise and served with a tri-color salad, $9).The Cioppino was an absolute delight. The aforementioned fleet of fish and crustacean, tasty and tender, all swimming in a very good broth that had a subtle, but present, spicy tang to it and generous to boot.My Spicy Salmon Burger was big, juicy, and bold. The patty was seasoned salmon mixed with diced hot Chilean peppers that, rather than overpowering the flavor, supported it. A smear of tartar sauce on the bun made for a complimentary combination.All in all, Santa Monica Seafood’s new location is quite the piscine paradise, so if the angle of great, good value seafood appeals to you then I suggest that you take the bait and cast your net at Santa Monica Seafood’s new place on Wilshire. 1000 Wilshire Boulevard.310.393.5244.

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