Sunday, June 15, 2008

Harbor Fish Cafe

Feels great to be writing about food again. been awhile. Over the past few months I have had more Pâté de foie gras in France that I thought possible. I knew one more bite was going to get me picketed by an animal rights group. I ate so much in fact that flocks of geese started to change the direction of their migratory flight to avoid flying over me. Even had the best lobster I have ever had anywhere in New York City. And of course took no pictures and blogged none of it. Needed to relax and enjoy the food, after all, to eat is the greatest luxury we have as humans, to enjoy with our friends and family and just relax.

And that is just what we did at one of my favorite haunts, The Harbor Fish Cafe in Carlsbad California. You can't really call this place a dive in my opinion a dive must have an air of some eccentricity to it. This place reeks of tourist trap if you just happen to stroll by. Located in the Carlsbad village area and perched on a cliff by the ocean and if you grab your food and are lucky enough to find parking in the rear of the place. You will have a spectacular view of the beach below.

I absolutely detest fried foods of any kind, But I have to say that I have a weakness for fish & chips, must be from all the times my mom dragged us to Long John Silvers every Friday night. when I was a kid. She was a devout Catholic and that meant no meat on that night. Just wish she had mastered the art of cooking fish at home. She was a wonderful cook, just not with fish.

This place has been here for almost 30 years and despite it being a tourist Mecca restaurant it still draws in the locals who know what the food is all about. The Fish & Chips are the best I have had anywhere on this planet.
Extremely large portions of fresh cod that are hand dipped in a traditional batter of rice flour, soda water and egg. This stuff is truly remarkable, light and flaky and not greasy at all. Frying foods generally takes away from the texture and taste, often times resulting in a overly heavy and soggy lump of something that was once a shrimp or a cod fish. Not at this place. you can taste the freshness of the fish and cracking one open you can see the flakiness of the cod.

The rice flour makes it. it comes through without compromising the foods natural flavor and unlike regular flour, where you have to season it and after frying with it, is too thick. Rice flour just makes a nice light coating. I use the stuff almost exclusively when I have a request for some onion rings or fried zucchini. The homemade tartar sauce is wonderful as well. Not to heavy and mayonnaise driven. a very light concoction with a perfect amount of diced pickles in it. The cocktail sauce on the other hand was a bit sweet for me. I never have really tasted a cocktail sauce that I particularly liked. Don't get the stuff really. A squeeze of fresh lemon and a heavy dash of good malt vinegar and you are in heaven with this dish. The chips are more French fries than the traditional English chips, which are thicker cuts. But these are a great alternative. Very light and crisp.

We also ordered up a plate of fried clams. Sue grew up on the East Coast and always had them back home growing up. I was really apprehensive about these as they are not only fried but are heavily coated with batter. But was very surprised with the light texture of them and the very nice and refreshing sweet briny taste of the fresh clams. Very well done with homemade coleslaw that had a light dressing on it. This place I believe has mastered the art of frying to perfection.
This is definitely on my top 10 haunts in San Diego. Not a dive, but definitely on the edge, of a cliff that is.
3179 Carlsbad Blvd Carlsbad, CA


caninecologne said...

Welcome back Michael! great post - those fish and chips look delicious!

Michael said...

Thanks CC its great to be back.

caninecologne said...

Looking forward to your future posts!!!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm, deep fried fish goodness. I will have to give HFC a try, thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

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